New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared donations of Rs 719.83 crore from sources other than electoral bonds in 2022-23, which is more than the Rs 614.52 crore it had declared the previous financial year.
The annual contribution reports of the BJP and three other recognised national parties were uploaded by the Election Commission of India on its website. These reports have details of all donations of Rs 20,000 and above through cheques, bank transfers, online transactions and UPI payments. The donations are received from individuals, electoral trusts, companies and associations.
Under the law, political parties need to submit details of all donations received by them, above Rs 20,000 and details of donors such as names, PAN card numbers and addresses.
The reports do not include donations that parties have received through electoral bonds, which make the identities of donors completely secret.
According to the Indian Express, the BJP received about 35% of the donations in 2022-23 from the Prudent Electoral Trust, which gave the BJP Rs 256.25 crore in total. “The Einzigartig Electoral Trust and Triumph Electoral Trust have Rs 8 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively,” the report said.
Electoral trusts are non-profit organisations which are set up by companies with the sole objective of distributing contributions they receive to political parties. The contributions come largely come from corporate entities or business houses registered in India, although individuals are also allowed to make donations.
Among individual donors are chief ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh) and Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh). According to the Indian Express, among the donors are also mining companies, construction firms, waste management companies, distilleries and restaurants. Also are small businesses, private schools, education and charitable trusts. Plant nurseries, wine shops, ‘atta chakkis’ and hardware stores are among the small businesses on the donors’ list.
The contribution report of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), also posted on the ECI website on Thursday, showed declared donations of Rs 6.02 crore. The CPI (M) does not accept electoral bonds and is the only political party amongst the petitioners in court to contest their constitutionality.
AAP declared Rs 37 crore for FY 2022-23 and the BSP declared zero donations.
You can read the reports here.
The opacity of electoral bonds has been heard by the Supreme Court and the verdict has been reserved.
Electoral bonds generated donations worth over Rs 9,188 crore for all political parties in the past six years, according to data released by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). The BJP got the lion’s share of electoral bonds, securing 57% of the total donations, as per ADR.
For electoral bonds, which can be purchased in denominations worth crores of rupees, recipient political parties are required to only cite the total amount received to the ECI in their annual audited statements.
The money that the BJP has received through electoral bonds is in excess of what it has received from other declared sources. In 2021-22, the BJP declared Rs 1,033.70 crore through electoral bonds but only Rs 614.52 crore through other contributions.
In the Supreme Court, the government’s counsel, solicitor general Tushar Mehta, raised eyebrows when he argued for the “privacy” of donors to political parties. There was considerable heat generated by the attorney general for India R Venkataramani’s statement in the Supreme Court during the course of the case that citizens don’t have the right to know the source of funds received by political parties.
A raft of petitions have opposed the call for “privacy” and made the case for transparency, to know who is funding which party and where that money is coming from. The controversial scheme, which began in 2017, makes it possible for companies to be set up and donate all proceeds to political parties. Earlier, only a fraction of profits could be donated.