The Bharatiya Janata Party received Rs 2,642.63 crore from unidentified sources in the financial year 2019-’20, the Association for Democratic Reforms said in a report released on Tuesday.

The non-governmental organisation calculated that the BJP’s receipts from unidentified sources was equal to 78.24% of the total income of the seven national parties it studied.

“This income of [the] BJP is 3.5 times more the aggregate of income from unknown sources declared by the other six national parties (Rs 734.78 cr),” the report said.

The total amount of money received by seven national parties from identified and unidentified sources was Rs 4,758.20 crore, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms report.

Apart from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the other parties included in the analysis were the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Nationalist Congress Party and the Communist Party of India.

For the analysis, “known sources” were defined as contributions above Rs 20,000 whose donor details were submitted by the national parties to the Election Commission of India. The “unknown sources” are “income declared in the IT returns but without giving source of income for donations below Rs 20,000”, the Association for Democratic Reforms said.

The total income of the political parties through identified donors was Rs 1,013.80 crore, and from known sources (sale of assets, membership fee, and bank interest, among others) was Rs 366.99 crore.

Electoral bonds

Out of Rs 3,377.41 crore that the seven national parties earned from unidentified sources, the share of income generated from electoral bonds is Rs 2,993.826 or 88.643%, the report said.

“Income from sale of coupons declared by INC, NCP and CPM formed 5.747% (Rs 194.095 crore) of income from unknown sources while donations from voluntary contributions (below Rs 20,000) formed 5.255% (Rs 177.483 cr) in income from unknown sources of the seven national parties,” the Association for Democratic Reforms report said on Tuesday.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,429.56 crore were redeemed by political parties in financial year 2019-’20, and 87.29% of this was received by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, another report released on August 27 said.

Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from a bank and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them.

Former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced this scheme in his Budget speech in 2017, claiming the government wanted to clean up political funding and make it a transparent process.

The Centre had put certain rules in place for the sale of electoral bonds. They can be bought only with cheques or digital transfers and will be available in four designated 10-day windows in a year.

The government also discarded the requirement that only profitable firms can make donations to political parties.

However, critics have said that instead of ushering in transparency, electoral bonds make the system of political funding more opaque. Firms do not have to reveal their beneficiaries. Neither are political parties required to say where they got the money from.

The Election Commission of India had told the Supreme Court in March 2019 that the introduction of electoral bonds and the removal of the cap on corporate funding by the government will have a “serious impact” on the transparency of political funding.

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