New Delhi: Political parties have collected Rs 11,234 crore from unknown sources in the last 15 years, according to election watchdog, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
An analysis of their Income Tax Returns (ITR) and donations statements filed with the Election Commission of India (ECI) showed that the sources remained largely unknown.
At present, political parties are not required to reveal the names of individuals or organisations donating less than Rs 20,000, neither those who donate via electoral bonds.
As a result, more than 67 percent of the funds cannot be traced as they come from ‘unknown’ sources. While the national political parties were brought under the RTI Act by a Central Information Commission (CIC) ruling in June 2013, they have still not complied with the decision.
For this analysis, seven national parties were considered — BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPM and CPI.
However, the BSP declared that it did not receive any funds from voluntary contributions (above or below Rs 20,000)/sale of coupons/electoral bonds or unknown sources of income.
According to ADR, between FY 2004-05 and FY 2018-19, the national parties have collected Rs 11,234.12 crore from unknown sources.
During FY 2018-19, BJP declared Rs 1,612.04 crore as income from unknown sources which was 64 per cent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources at Rs 2,512.98 crore.
This income of BJP forms more than 1.5 times over the aggregate of income from unknown sources declared by the other five parties at Rs 900.94 crore.
The Congress declared Rs 728.88 crore as income from unknown sources which was 29 per cent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources.
Out of Rs 2512.98 crore as income from unknown sources, the share of income from electoral bonds was Rs 1960.68 crore or 78 per cent.
As per the analysis, the combined income of Congress and NCP from sale of coupons between FY 2004-05 and FY 2018-19 stood at Rs 3,902.63 crore.
According to the donations report (containing details of donations above Rs 20,000) of FY 2018-19, Rs 71.44 lakh was given to the national parties in cash.
For this report, known sources have been defined as donations above Rs 20,000, whose donor details are available through contributions report as submitted by the national parties to the ECI.
The unknown sources are income declared in the IT returns but without giving a source of income for donations below Rs 20,000. Such unknown sources include ‘donations via electoral bonds’, ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, ‘contribution from meetings/morchas’ etc. The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.