A detailed analysis of the sources of funding of political parties in India between 2004-05 and 2014-15 by the Association of Democratic Rights (ADR) and National Election Watch has thrown up sufficient evidence to strengthen the argument that there is need for stricter laws to inject transparency into funding of political parties and to make them more accountable to tax authorities and the Election Commission of India.

The ADR analysis has come up with some startling findings. The total income of national and state parties in the country during this period was Rs 11,367 crore, but as much as Rs 7,833 crore came from “unknown sources”!

Among the national parties, the Indian National Congress, which headed the coalition that ruled the country for a decade from 2004, collected as much as Rs 3,323 crore from unknown sources, constituting 83 per cent of its total income.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the other hand earned `2,126 crore, which made up for 65 per cent of its total income from anonymous sources.

The donations received by the CPI(M) and even the Aam Admi Party (AAP) was way above 50 per cent of the funds collected. Among regional parties, the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh did very well for itself, collecting `766 crore during this period, but the bigger worry was that close to 94 per cent of this money came from unknown sources.

The analysis has thrown up several more disturbing facts: The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313 per cent from Rs 274 crore in 2004-05 to Rs 1,131 crore in 2014-15. During the same period, the income of regional parties from unknown sources shot up by 652 per cent from `37 crore to Rs 281 crore. Even more worrying is the fact that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which raised such a hue and cry over demonetisation, “was the only party to consistently declare” that it received no donations above `20,000. As a result, 100 per cent of the donations which came to the party during this period, came from “unknown sources”, although the party’s total income jumped from Rs 5 crore to Rs 112 crore since 2004. This constituted a rise of 2,240 per cent in the party’s income and all of it from anonymous donors!

These conclusions are indeed damning and provide proof, if proof were needed, to show that political funding is the fountainhead of corruption and generation of black money in the country and that the problem is now getting out of hand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive against corruption and black money can get an impetus only if this issue is addressed honestly by the political establishment. Modi has indicated more than once that he is willing to take the bull by the horns, by stating publicly that he wants transparency in political funding. The Election Commission has flagged this issue and argued for tougher legal measures to regulate the funds of political parties.

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