ADR releases report on audited accounts of regional parties for 2018-2019 as submitted to ECI

An analysis of the audited accounts of regional parties for 2018-2019 as submitted to the Election Commission of India (ECI) has found that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had the highest income as well as growth in income, while the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) spent the most.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said of the 52 regional parties considered for the analysis, audited reports of 37 were available on the ECI’s website, though the deadline for political parties to submit these reports was October 31, 2019. The 37 parties declared a combined income of ₹1,089.60 crore in 2018-2019, of which 22.88% or ₹249.31 crore was the BJD’s income, 17.31% or ₹188.71 crore was of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and 16.62% or ₹181.08 crore was the YSRCP’s income.

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“The total income of top three parties amounted to ₹619.10 crore, which comprised 56.82% of the total income of the political parties analysed, collectively,” the report said.

The BJD also reported the highest increase in income from the previous year, followed by the YSRCP and the TRS.

Just over 84% of the declared income of the 37 parties, ₹919.31 crore, came from “voluntary contributions”, including donations and electoral bonds. Of that, 53.09% or ₹578.49 crore came from electoral bonds, though only seven of the 37 parties accounted for this amount.

Thirteen regional parties, including the Samajwadi Party (SP), DMK, Shiromani Akali Dal and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, declared expenditures higher than their incomes. The SP declared an expenditure of 50.65% more than its income – the highest such amount.

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Out of the total expenditure of ₹405.13 crore, 46.69% or ₹189.174 crore was incurred by the top three parties – the YSRCP (₹87.68 crore), the SP (₹50.92 crore) and the BJD (₹50.57 crore).

“After the analysis by ADR, it is found that the total sum of expenditure declared by the SP in its audited statement is incorrect. On adding the various expenditure heads, it is found that the total declared by the party is ₹5.594 crore less than the actual amount. This reinforces our demand for proper scrutiny of the parties’ audited accounts by the I-T department,” the report stated.

Electoral bond scheme

The ADR also raised concerns about the electoral bond scheme that enables anonymous donations to parties, and reiterated its demand for discontinuing the scheme.

“Given the anonymity provided to donors by the scheme, it is seen that electoral bonds have emerged as the most popular mode of donations to regional political parties for FY 2018-2019,” the report said.

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