Political parties in India collected more than Rs 2,172 crore from "unknown sources" in the financial year 2021-22, accounting for 66.04 percent of their total income, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO working for electoral reforms.

The seven national parties in question — BJP, Congress, TMC, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and the National People's Party — have declared the income in their annual audit report without revealing the source, ADR said, adding that the donations include contributions via electoral bonds, sale of coupons, relief funds, miscellaneous income, voluntary contributions and contributions from meetings/morchas.

Of the total amount collected from unknown sources, Rs 1,811.94 crore or 83.41 percent came through electoral bonds- in 2021-2022, the ADR said.

The total income of national and regional parties from unknown sources stood at Rs 690.67 crore for 2020-21. The ADR had considered eight national parties and 27 regional parties for that analysis.

Currently, political parties are not required to disclose the names of individuals or organizations donating less than Rs 20,000 and those who donate via electoral bonds.

BJP declared Rs 1,161 crore as income from unknown sources, which is 53.45 percent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources. The TMC declared Rs 528 crore as income from unknown sources, which is 24.31 percent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources.

The ADR also noted that between 2004-05 and 2021-22, the national parties collected Rs 17,249.45 crore from unknown sources.

The combined income of the Congress and NCP from the sale of coupons during the same period stands at Rs 4,398.51 crore, it said. The CPI, on the other hand, has declared donations through levy, membership fee, party funds, and election funds.

”It is to be noted that TMC’s total donations as per the audit report are worth Rs 38 lakh (excluding donations via electoral bonds) but the party has declared donations worth Rs 43 lakh in the donations statement (details of donations above Rs 20,000). Hence, there is a discrepancy in the party’s statement for FY 2021-22,” the ADR explained.

The analysis was carried out on eight national parties, but the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) declared that it did not receive any funds from voluntary contributions from unknown sources of income, ADR said.

The use of electoral bonds in political funding has been a contentious issue in India, with critics alleging that it allows for anonymous donations from corporates and individuals to political parties. The government, on the other hand, has defended the use of electoral bonds, saying it promotes transparency in political funding.

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