National political parties have collected Rs 15,078 crore from unknown sources in the 15 years from 2004-05, while national & regional parties together collected Rs 691 crore from unknown sources in 2020-21, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ADR did an analysis of the income tax returns and donations statements filed by political parties with the Election Commission, which shows that the sources of funding of these parties remains largely unknown.

The ADR considered funding of eight national parties BJP, Congress, AITC, CPM, NCP, BSP, CPI and NPEP and 27 regional parties AAP, AGP, AIADMK, AIFB, AIMIM, AIUDF, BJD, CPI(ML)(L), DMDK, DMK, GFP, JDS, JDU, JMM, KC-M, MNS, NDPP, NPF, PMK, RLD, SAD, SDF, Shiv Sena, SKM, TDP, TRS and YSR-Congress for its analysis.

The BSP, however, declared that it did not receive any funds from voluntary contributions (above or below Rs 20,000)/sale of coupons / electoral bonds or unknown sources of income.)

For the year 2020-21, eight national parties declared Rs 426 crore income, and 27 regional parties received Rs 263 crore income from unknown sources. During the year 2020-21, the Congress declared Rs 178 crore as income from unknown sources which is 42% of the total income of national parties from unknown sources (Rs 426 cr).

The ruling BJP declared Rs 100 crore as income from unknown sources which is 23% of the total income of national parties from unknown sources. Top five regional parties’ unknown income are: YSR-Congress – Rs 96 crore, DMK – Rs 80 crore, BJD – Rs 67 crore, MNS – Rs 5 crore and AAP – Rs 5 crore.

Out of Rs 691 crore income national and regional political parties got from unknown sources in 2020-21, the share of income from electoral bonds was Rs 325 crore or 47%. The combined income of the Congress and NCP from sale of coupons between the years 2004-05 and 2020-21 is Rs 4262 crore.

The ADR report says that there are reporting discrepancies in the audit and contribution reports of seven political parties AITC, CPI, AAP, SAD, KC-M, AIFB and AIUDF for the year 2020-21.

In most cases, the share of donations above Rs 20, 000 declared by parties in their contribution reports does not match such income shown in their audit reports. This makes it difficult to arrive at an accurate figure of their income coming from unknown sources, the ADR said.

At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organizations giving less than Rs. 20,000 nor those who donate via electoral bonds. As a result, more than 36% of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources. While the national and regional political parties were brought under the RTI Act by the CIC ruling in June 2013, they have still not complied with the decision, the ADR report says. It also adds that full transparency on funding would not be possible under the current laws and only the RTI had been of help.

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