Deccan Herald
New Delhi

The Congress may have been wielding power at the Centre since 2004 but it appears that the corporate houses and business establishments preferred Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for donating money during United Progressive Alliance regimes, if one were to go by analysis by two private election watchdogs.

The BJP received the maximum donations of Rs 192.47 crore from 1,334 donors from corporate or business sector between 2004-05 and 2011-12,  while the Congress lagged behind at Rs 172.25 crore, which it collected from 418 donors, the study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) said.

The five national parties—the Congress, BJP, Nationalist Congress Party, CPI and the CPM— got Rs 378.89 crore during the period from corporates while the sixth national party, Bahujan Samaj Party, claimed that it received no voluntary contribution above Rs 20,000 from any donor between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

The donations from corporate and business houses form 87 per cent of the total contribution from known sources of parties. Parties do not need to declare the source if the donation is below Rs 20,000. For the Congress, the General Electoral Trust of the Aditya Birla group donated the maximum Rs 36.41 crore, followed by Torrent Power Rs 11.85 crore and Bharti Electoral Trust of Bharti group Rs 11 crore.

Birla's electoral trust also donated Rs 26.57 crore to BJP, the highest for the party, followed by Torrent Power Rs 13 crore and Asianet V Holding Rs 10 crore. The Sharad Pawar-led NCP got Rs 1 crore each from Ambuja Cement, Hindustan Construction Co and Infina Finance.

Big corporates and business houses appear to have no inclination to donate to CPI as its 11 donors included Nawa Karnataka Publications, four bank officers associations and a housing cooperative group. It received a meagre Rs 11 lakh during the last eight years as donations.

The CPM was a shade better as it got Rs 1.78 crore from 108 donors, which were identified under corporate/business houses, but like its Left ally, many of them were trade unions or officers’ associations.

Citing the Supreme Court judgment that no part of candidate's affidavit should be left blank, the ADR and NEW have demanded that similar provisions should be made to ensure that political parties provide all details regarding donations above Rs 20,000 in the prescribed form.

It also demanded that parties, which do not submit its donation statement to the Election Commission before October 31 every year, should be penalised and its income should not be tax-exempt. Only the Congress and CPM have submitted the details of donations they received during 2012-13 to the Election Commission.

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