Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 9
An analysis of Income Tax returns and donation statements filed by political parties with the Election Commission of India shows bulk of their funding is from unknown sources. As much as 78 per cent or Rs 1,960.68 crore accrued by them in the financial year 2018-19 came from electoral bonds of which the highest gainer was the BJP, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Introduced by the Narendra Modi government as an alternative to cash donations to parties, electoral bonds ran into controversy over allegations that the instrument flouted the concept of transparent elections.
For its latest analysis, the ADR considered seven national parties — the BJP, Congress AITC, CPM, NCP, BSP and the CPI. The BSP declared it did not receive any funds from voluntary contributions.
Between FY 2004-05 and 2018-19, national parties collected Rs 11,234.12 crore from unknown sources. The total income of seven national political parties in FY 2018-19 was Rs 3,749.37 crore. Income from known donors was Rs 951.66 crore — 25.38 per cent of the total income. From other known sources such as the sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, party
levy, etc., the income was Rs 284.73 crore (7.59 per cent of the total income).
What is unknown source
Income declared in the income tax return without giving a source for donation below Rs20,000 is said to be from an unknown source, which includes donation via electoral bonds, sale of coupons, relief fund, contribution from meetings, etc
However, income from unknown sources was Rs 2,512.98 core — 67 per cent of the total income. Of this 2,512.98 crore, as per the ADR, the share of income from electoral bonds is Rs 1,960.68 crore (78%), the highest gainer of which is the BJP.
During FY 2018-19, the BJP declared Rs 1,612.04 crore as income from unknown sources, which happens to be 64 per cent of the total income of all parties from unknown sources (Rs 2,512.98 crore).
Meanwhile the Congress declared Rs 728.88 crore as income from unknown sources — 29 per cent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources.
At present, political parties are not required to reveal names of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs 20,000 nor those who donated via electoral bonds. As a result, more than 67 per cent of the funds cannot be traced and are from “unknown” sources, ADR explains.
Though parties were brought under the RTI Act in June 2013, they have still not complied with the decision. Full transparency is not possible under the current laws, it adds.
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