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These 8 National Parties Pocketed Over ₹15,000 Cr In 17 Years From Unknown Donors: Report

A study by the Association for Democratic Reforms found that many regional and national parties collected donations worth over ₹15,000 crores from unverified or untraceable sources between 2004 and 2021.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) was established in 1999 as a non-partisan, non-governmental organisation that worked in the area of electoral and political reforms. The organisation recently released a report on the cumulative income earned by the national parties in India and was able to find that the source of income in the majority of the cases remains untraceable.

Pocketing small amounts of money in the form of donations over time, the political parties have a net worth that could go over ₹15,000 crores. As per the Right to Information Act, the parties are accountable to the public in regard to their income and the legitimate source behind the same. However, many do not comply with these and have failed to sustain a transparent system.

ADR Study Findings

The recent report released by ADR found that eight national mainstream parties have collected an amount above ₹15,000 Crores in the form of small donations of ₹20,000 or below over a period of 17 years. Many among these donations cannot be traced back to a known source, and the identities of many have not been disclosed by the parties. Further concerning is the finding that neither the Election Commission nor the income tax authorities have conducted any form of investigation on these donations accumulated over the years.

The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alone had cashed in ₹4,262 crores claimed from the "sale of coupons" with donors whose identities are protected. In 2020-21, Congress declared ₹179 Crores as income via unknown sources, which accounts for 42 per cent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources. In similar terms, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also declared ₹101 Crores.

However, the parties fail to comply with the Right to Information Act, and more than 36 per cent of the entire funds received by every party can still not be traced back to a known source.

Many of these donations are qualified for tax exemptions after the legitimacy of the income and expenditure are declared, as per the regulations set by the IT department. In regard to this, the report holds reason to believe that the influx of such huge amounts of money into banks of national parties through unverified sources is a cause of concern. Raising concerns about the colour of the money that is funding the elections in India, they have come to believe that "Full transparency is, unfortunately, not possible under the current laws".

Banking In During The Pandemic

Around the time when the Covid pandemic had struck the nation, millions of people had lost their source of income, and the economy had stagnated for a considerable while. However, the banks of the leading parties in the country continued to flood with unaccounted donations. The national parties all together received ₹690 crores as income from unknown sources, while the rest of the country had a huge question posed in terms of their financial situation.

Added along with this was the ₹325 crores collected through electoral bonds, reported the Times Of India. Even the contributors of electoral bonds are kept from being disclosed and are treated as income from an 'unknown source'.

About 77 per cent of the electoral bond money brought in during 2020-21 was moved to 27 regional parties, including prominent regional outfits such as Shiv Sena, TRS, YSR-Cong, AAP, BJD, DMK, JD(S), JD(U), AGP, AIADMK, AIFB, AIMIM, AIUDF, JMM and MNS. Out of it, around ₹74 crores out of it reached the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), NCP, Communist Party Of India (CPI), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPM), and National People's Party of Meghalaya.

Also Read: Common Route Of Donation For Political Parties: What Are Electoral Bonds And Why Is It In Discussion?

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar

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