New Delhi

In the eleven years between 2004-05 and 2014-15, political parties of all colours, including ones which swore by transparency, got contributions worth more than $1billion (Rs 6,800 crore) from unknown sources, a study by an independent think tank says.

The historic financial `performance' of these parties which raked in more than Rs 11,000 crore in total income (this includes the Rs 6,800 crore) during this period will add to the gathering momentum for a consensus among parties to clean up political funding.

The Congress, ruling party at the Centre most of these years, made around Rs 4,000 crore, 83% of this from unknown donors. Details of these patrons weren't provided to either the Election Commission or the incometax department.

The BJP that formed government at the Centre in May 2014 followed close. Its income was Rs 3,273 crore during this period -65% of it from unknown sources.

Surprisingly, the Aam Admi Party, formed in 2013 on the plank of eliminating corruption from elections and ensuring transparency in political funding, together with the CPM and the CPI did not shy away from receiving funds from `unknown' donors. While 57% of AAP's Rs 110 crore collected in the three years (2013-2015) was from unknown sources, the CPM's 53% of total income of Rs 893 crore in 11 years was from contributors who are unknown.

The BSP, which collected Rs 764 crore, did not declare a single donor. It used a clause in the Representation of the People Act that makes it mandatory for parties to disclose donors only if individual contributions exceed Rs 20,000. The party maintained each of its donations was below this mark. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO working for probity in elections, the Congress and the BJP account for over 63% of the total income of Rs 11,367 crore of all national and regional parties.

he ADR study is based on the audited accounts and contribution statements submitted by parties to the EC and the I-T department.A closer scrutiny of the flow of funds showed that in the period covered, party coffers remained unaffected even by the dip in the country's economic fortunes.

Jagdeep Chhokar, ADR founder member and a former IIM Ahmedabad professor, said 69% of the total income of all parties is from unknown sources, which is around Rs 7,800 crore in 11 years. "Donor details should be made available for public scrutiny under RTI," Chhokar demanded, and observed that this is important for strengthening of parties, elections and the democracy .

There's some hope that the NDA government may initiate electoral reforms and make parties accountable with PM Narendra Modi last month backing EC recommendations to bring an end to anonymous donations.

The PM supported the EC's demand saying his `government was committed to implement whatever decision is taken in the interest of people'.

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method