More than 50 per cent parties' income come from electoral bonds

TMC only national party to declare donations through electoral bonds

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In the backdrop of concerns being expressed over electoral bonds, an analysis of the funding details submitted by three national parties and 22 regional parties to the Election Commission shows that more than 50 per cent of their income in 2018-19 came through the electoral bonds scheme.

A total of Rs 587.87 crore of the income declared by the parties to the Commission came through electoral bonds, as per an analysis of the parties' audit reports carried out by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

The total income declared by the parties was Rs 1163.17 crore. These parties collected Rs 893.6 crore or 76.82 per cent of their total income from voluntary contributions, including donations and contributions and electoral bonds for 2018-19.

Under voluntary contributions, the parties collected 50.54 per cent or Rs 587.87 crore of their income from donations through electoral bonds while other donations and contributions amounted to Rs 305.73 crore or 26.28 per cent for the financial year 2018-19. However, of the three national parties analysed, only Trinamool Congress declared receiving donations through electoral bonds, amounting to Rs 97.28 crore. Only five of the 22 regional parties that were analysed declared donations through bonds, the amount being Rs 490.59 crore.

The ADR stated that given the anonymity provided to donors by the scheme, it is seen that electoral bonds have emerged as the most common and popular channel of donations to national and regional parties for 2018-19.

A total of 12.13 per cent or Rs 141.038 crore of the total income was generated through membership and subscriptions fees by these parties.

The three national parties that submitted their details are Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and Bahujan Samaj Party. The audit reports of the remaining five national parties, including the BJP and the Congress, and 30 regional parties were not available on the website of the Commission till the preparation of the report by the ADR.

The BJD reported the highest income of Rs 249.31 crore, which was 21.43 per cent of the total income of all parties analysed. The Trinamool declared an income of Rs 192.65 crore or 16.56 per cent, while the TRS stated it got Rs 88.71 crore or 16.22 per cent of the total income of all parties.

The total income of the top three parties was Rs 630.67 crore, which comprised 54.22 per cent of the total income of the parties.

Out of a total of 25 parties analysed, 17 parties have shown an increase in their income from 2017-18 to 2018-19, while six parties have shown a decline in their income during this period.

The BJD reported the highest increase in its income of Rs 235.19 crore, followed by Trinamool Congress and YSR-Congress, which declared a total increase of Rs 187.48 crore and Rs 166.84 crore, respectively, between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Significantly, 37 days since the due date for submission, the income tax returns and audit reports of five national parties and 30 regional parties were still not available on the website of the Election Commission.