August 3, 2021 3:04:16 am
Political parties received electoral bonds worth Rs 150.51 crore from donors in July, a non-election period and three months after the polls in Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
Of this, as much as Rs 97.31 crore-worth bonds were sold by the Kolkata main branch of State Bank of India (SBI), Rs 30 crore bonds were sold by Chennai branch of SBI and Rs 10 crore bonds by SBI’s Hyderabad branch.
As much as Rs 126 crore bonds were of the face value of Rs 1 crore each and Rs 23.60 crore bonds were of the face value of Rs 10 lakh each, SBI said in reply to the RTI application filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd).
The bond sale, 17th phase, happened between July 1 and 10. With this, political parties have received a total of Rs 7,380 crore in 17 phases from donors, mainly corporate houses and industrialists, towards “funding of elections”. In April 2021, when election process in four states and one Union Territory was in full swing, SBI sold bonds worth Rs 695.34 crore to donors of parties. Voting for five Assembly polls began on March 27, with results being declared in first week of May. The Supreme Court had refused to stay sales of electoral bonds ahead of the polls on a PIL filed by an NGO pertaining to funding of parties and alleging lack of transparency.
Electoral bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue. A debt instrument, these can be bought by donors from a bank, and the political party can then encash them. These can be redeemed only by an eligible party by depositing the same in its designated account maintained with a bank.
The bonds are issued by SBI in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore. Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes in the last general election to an Assembly or Parliament, are eligible to open current accounts for redemption of electoral bonds.
Even major political parties have not disclosed the amount they received through electoral bonds. Donors gave Rs 1,056.73 crore in 2018, Rs 5,071.99 crore in 2019 and Rs 363.96 crore in 2020, SBI had said in a previous RTI reply to The Indian Express.