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The recent report released by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) found that 27 regional parties have collected an amount of ₹ 263 crore and the eight national parties collected a total amount of ₹ Rs 426 crore from unknown sources in 2020-21. The report also stated that the eight national parties over a period of 17 years have collected an amount of over ₹ 15,000 between 2004 – 2021. The organisation recently released a report on the cumulative income earned by the national parties in India and was able to find that the source of income in the majority of the cases remained untraceable.

Among the 27 regional parties in the list, two belongs to the state of Assam including Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

In the report titled, ‘Analysis Of Sources Of Funding Of National & Regional Parties: FY 2020-21,’ 8 National parties including BJP, INC, AITC, CPM, NCP, BSP, CPI and NPEP and 27 Regional Parties including 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, Shivsena, SKM, TDP, TRS and YSR-Congress were considered.

In the same report, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was found to have had collected a total of ₹ 100.502 crore as income from unknown sources which is 23.55 % of the total income of all National Parties from unknown sources.  Out of ₹ 690.67 crore as income from unknown sources, share of income from Electoral Bonds was found to be ₹ 325.06 cr or 47.06% which includes Electoral Bonds received by 8 National Parties (Rs 74.46 cr) and 27 Regional parties (Rs 250.60 cr).

An analysis of their Income Tax Returns and donations statements filed with the Election Commission of India (ECI) shows that the sources remain largely unknown. At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organizations giving less than Rs. 20,000 nor those who donated via Electoral Bonds. As a result, more than 36% of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources.

As per the report published, many among these donations cannot be traced back to a known source, and the identities of many have not been disclosed by the parties. Further concerning is the finding that neither the Election Commission nor the income tax authorities have conducted any form of investigation on these donations accumulated over the years.

As per the report, the known sources above the amount of ₹ 20,000 are defined as donations, whose donor details are available through contributions report as submitted by National parties to the ECI. Other known sources of income include sale of moveable & immoveable assets, old newspapers, membership fees, delegate fee, bank interest, sale of publications and levy whose details would be available in the books of accounts maintained by political parties.
Whereas the unknown sources are income declared in the IT returns but without giving source of income for donations below ₹ 20,000. Such unknown sources include ‘donations via Electoral Bonds’, ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, ‘contribution from meetings/morchas’ etc. The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain. 

An amount of almost ₹ 74 crores reached in terms of Electoral Bonds and ₹ 171 crores reached in terms of voluntary contributions below ₹ 20,000 among the national and regional parties including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), NCP, Communist Party Of India (CPI), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPM), and National People's Party of Meghalaya.

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