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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received about three-fourths, or 76% of the electoral bonds sold in financial year 2019-20, NDTV reported, citing data from the Election Commission. The Congress got just 9% of the total bonds sold during the fiscal year. Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,355 crore were sold in 2019-20.
An electoral bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties. It is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India. The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice anonymously.
Of the Rs 3,355 crore worth of electoral bonds, the BJP received Rs 2,555 crore in 2019-20, a 75% increase from the Rs 1,450 crore it received in the previous year. The Congress received Rs 318 crore in 2019-20, a 17% decline from the previous year when it had received Rs 383 crore from electoral bonds.
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress got Rs 100.46 crore, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party Rs 29.25 crore, Shiv Sena Rs 41 crore, the DMK Rs 45 crore, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal Rs 2.5 crore and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party Rs 18 crore.
According to the NDTV report, the saffron party alone has received 68% of the electoral bonds sold since inception till March 2020. It further said that the party had the highest income among all political parties long before the bonds came in.
During the assembly elections in April this year, the sale of electoral bonds jumped by nearly 16 times as compared to early January, The Wire had reported, citing information from the State Bank of India through a Right to Information query. (The electoral bonds are available for purchase for 10 days in the beginning of every quarter. The first 10 days of January, April, July and October has been specified by the government for purchase of electoral bonds. In the year of Lok Sabha elections, the period will be extended to 30 days.)
Transparency activists and some political parties including Congress have repeatedly raised concerns over these ‘anonymous’ bonds, saying that they have “legalised corruption”. However, the Modi government had argued these bonds are a “successful attempt to usher in honest money in politics”, and that it would improve transparency as they were banking instruments and every political party will have to disclose how much money they received.
The statutory body for the implementation for the RTI Act – the Central Information Commission – held last year that disclosing the identities of the electoral bond scheme donors would violate the provisions of the Right to Information Act.