Deccan Herald
Shemin Joy
New Delhi

Since 2018, when the electoral bond came into being, bonds worth Rs 11,699.83 crore have been sold

Electoral bonds worth Rs 232.10 crore were sold during the 24th edition of sale of the financial instrument in December last year and the whole amount has been encashed by parties.

Between October and December last year, during which elections to Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and the Delhi municipal polls were held, electoral bonds worth Rs 1,450.61 crore were sold in three tranches. While in October, bonds worth Rs 545.25 crore were sold, in November, bonds worth Rs 676.26 crore were sold.

Since 2018 when the electoral bond came into being, there were 24 phases of sales, including the latest, during which bonds worth Rs 11,699.83 crore have been sold. The bonds which were not encashed was around Rs 23.59 crore and were transferred to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund.

According to information received through RTI by transparency activist Lokesh Batra for the 24th edition of bond sale between December 5 and 12, 229 (88.07 per cent) out of 260 bonds sold  were of Rs one crore each while the rest 31 were of value of Rs 10 lakh each.

Mumbai branch of the SBI recorded the highest sale of bonds worth Rs 114 crore followed by Hyderabad branch at Rs 56 crore. Bonds were also sold in Chennai (Rs 30 crore), New Delhi (Rs 16.10 crore) and Kolkata (Rs 16 crore).

When it came to encashing the bonds, Delhi topped the list with Rs 194.10 crore, followed by Hyderabad at Rs 21 crore, and Kolkata at Rs 17 crore.

In its reply to Batra, the SBI also said that 25 political parties have opened their account for the purpose of encashing electoral bonds till date. Accounts are being opened at branches after obtaining proper approval, it said.

According to a previous RTI in July, the SBI has raised a commission bill of Rs 25.44 lakh excluding GST. It said it is yet to get Rs 42.30 crore for the 20th phase of bond sale. The SBI has asked the Ministry of Finance to arrange the release of the total pending commission of Rs 67.74 crore along with GST.

In the 20th edition of bond sale between April 1 and 10, electoral bonds worth Rs 648.48 crore were sold and whole redeemed by parties. In the 19th edition of bond sale between January 1 and 10, ahead of the Assembly elections to five states -- Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab -- electoral bonds worth Rs 1,213.26 crore crore were sold and whole redeemed by parties except for bonds worth Rs 40 lakh.

In the previous 18th phase, bonds worth Rs 614.33 crore were sold and the whole redeemed. When the 17th phase took place, bonds worth Rs 150.51 crore were sold and the whole redeemed.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) reported that in 2019-20, four national parties -- BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress and NCP -- and 14 regional parties together garnered Rs 3,441.31 crore through electoral bonds.

According to ADR, 62.92 per cent (Rs 2,993.82 crore) of the total income of the four national parties came from donations through electoral bonds. Ruling BJP's income rose by 50.34 per cent to Rs 3,623.28 crore in 2019-20 with the bulk coming from redemption of electoral bonds while three other national parties CPI(M), CPI and BSP did not receive any donation through electoral bonds.

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