Updated: August 10, 2021 10:14:48 am
The BJP cornered three-fourths of electoral bonds sold in 2019-20, even as the main Opposition party, the Congress, got just 9 per cent of the total bonds worth Rs 3,435, according to data filed with the Election Commission (EC).
In just three years of their introduction in early 2018, by virtue of the anonymity they offer to donors, electoral bonds have edged out all other routes of political funding for almost all major political parties.
In the BJP’s case, the party’s share of voluntary contributions through the electoral bonds route has gone up from 21 per cent in 2017-18 to 74% in 2019-20. In absolute terms, the party’s income from bonds has gone up more than ten times during this period.
The party received Rs 210 crore from bonds out of the total Rs 989 crore it got as voluntary contributions in 2017-18 and Rs 2,555 crore out of Rs 3,427 crore it raised in 2019-20. The Congress, on the other hand, got Rs 383 crore through bonds in 2018-19 and in 2019-20, got Rs 318 crore through bonds, which is 68% of the total Rs 469 crore that it got as voluntary donations.
That apart, in 2019-20, the Nationalist Congress Party collected Rs 29.25 crore through bonds, Trinamool Congress Rs 100.46 crore, DMK Rs 45 crore, Shiv Sena Rs 41 crore, Rashtriya Janata Dal Rs 2.5 crore, and the Aam Aadmi Party Rs 18 crore.
The anonymity that electoral bonds provide to donors means that voters will not know which individual, company, or organisation has funded which party, and to what extent.
Before electoral bonds were introduced, political parties had to disclose details of those who donated more than Rs 20,000. According to transparency activists, the change infringes on the citizen’s ‘Right to Know’ and makes the political class even more unaccountable.
“Moreover, while electoral bonds provide no details to the citizens, the said anonymity does not apply to the government of the day, which can always access the donor details by demanding the data from the State Bank of India (SBI). This implies that the only people in dark about the source of these donations are the taxpayers. It may also be noted that the printing of these bonds & SBI commission for facilitating the sale and purchase of the bonds is paid from the taxpayers’ money by the central government,” the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), which had moved the Supreme Court against electoral bonds, said in a recent statement.
The apex court had refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds.
The BJP remains the wealthiest political party in the country, with total cash of Rs 3,501 crore (in hand and bank accounts), a significant jump from Rs 1,904 crore in 2019-20, according to the party’s annual audit filed with the EC. In 2019-20, the party purchased land worth Rs 73 crore and buildings worth almost Rs 59 crore in 2019-20.
The BJP, in 2019-20, received roughly Rs 780 crore in donations (of above Rs 20,000) from companies and individuals, which is at least five times more than what the Congress received (Rs 139 crore). The NCP got Rs 59 crore, TMC Rs 8 crore, CPM Rs 19.6 crore, and the CPI Rs 1.9 crore in donations above Rs 20,000 for the same period.