Unrecognised political parties received Rs 25.27 crore in donations between 2013-14 and 2015-16, with only 5 per cent of such registered outfits filed their contribution details, says a report. Either newly registered parties or those which have not secured enough percentage of votes in assembly or general elections to become a state party or those which have never contested in elections since being registered are considered as unrecognised parties.
According to the Election Commission of India (ECI) notification on April 13, 2018, there are 2,099 political parties registered. And 2,044 or about 97 per cent of registered political parties are unrecognised. “Only 5 per cent of registered unrecognised parties filed their contributions report to the ECI between 2013-14 and 2015-16,” a report released today by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said.
For 2013-14, out of 1,627 unrecognised parties only 89 or 5 per cent filed their donations reports with the ECI and declared an income of Rs 14.03 crore from voluntary contributions, it said. A total of 1,737 parties were listed as unrecognised parties in 2014-15, out of which only 106 or 6 per cent submitted their contribution statements to the ECI. Their total declared income from voluntary contributions was Rs 6.86 crore.
Also, 1,906 parties were listed as unrecognised parties in 2015-16, of which only 99 or 5 per cent submitted their donations report to the ECI, declaring a total income of Rs 4.37 crore, the report said. Political parties are completely exempted from paying income tax as long as they file their returns and submit details of donations received above Rs 20,000 to the ECI, annually.
As many as “42 unrecognised parties declared donations below Rs 20,000 in their submission to the ECI for at least one financial year being considered,” the report said. Out of Rs 14.03 crore declared as voluntary contributions during 2013-14 by unrecognised parties, Rs 9.99 lakh came from donations below Rs 20,000. Similarly, the parties received Rs 20.79 lakh out of Rs 6.86 crore (2014-15) and Rs 27.52 lakh out of Rs 4.37 crore (2015-16) in such donations.
During 2013-14, registered political parties received Rs 393.18 crore as voluntary contributions, out of which recognised parties (regional and national) received Rs 382.15 crore, while unrecognised parties collected Rs 14.03 crore, the report said. Out of Rs 778.08 crore donations declared by registered parties during 2014-15, regional and national parties collected Rs 771.22 crore, while unrecognised parties declared Rs 6.86 crore.
While regional and national parties collected Rs 281.85 crore during 2015-16, unrecognised parties received Rs 4.38 crore in donations, it said. Among state-wise declaration of donations by unrecognised parties between 2013-14 and 2015-16, the reports were filed from 18 states, including Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Unrecognised parties from Rajasthan declared a total of Rs 10.79 crore between 2013-14 and 2015-16, the highest among all states, followed by Telangana (Rs 3.82 crore) and Haryana (Rs 2.74 crore).
The report further said that unrecognised parties from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Karnataka, Bihar, Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir failed to submit their donations details for at least one of the three years considered. Among parties of Rajasthan, National Unionist Zamindara Party, declared the highest donations of Rs 3.70 crore during 2013-14, while Shining India Party declared the highest donations during 2014-15 and 2015-16, with Rs 68.9 lakh and Rs 76.76 lakh, respectively, the Delhi-based think-tank said.
During 2013-14 and 2015-16, Lok Satta Party of Telangana declared the highest donations with Rs 190.81 lakh and Rs 28.20 lakh, respectively. A total of 33 unrecognised parties submitted their donation reports for all the three financial years. These include 10 from Gujarat, 6 from West Bengal, 4 each from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, 2 from Chhattisgarh and one each from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
ADR said 14 out of the 33 unrecognised parties declared nil donations for all the three financial years. These include 6 from Gujarat, 2 each from Rajasthan and West Bengal and one each from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Maharashtra. The top three unrecognised parties, which declared the highest total donations are Indian Peoples Green Party (Rajasthan) with total donations of Rs 1.34 crore, followed by Rastriya Ahinsa Mancha (West Bengal) -Rs 1.22 crore – and Dharmarajya Paksha (Maharashtra) – Rs 1.07 crore.
“Regulation of registration of political parties is crucial to avoid money laundering, corrupt electoral practices and abuse of money power. Thus, the ECI should impose strict norms for the registration of an association of persons as a political party apart from taking the stringent step of de-recognizing those parties which fail to adhere to the rules,” ADR said in its recommendations.