The Times of India
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Over 75% of the funding received by political parties is from unknown donors. This flies in the face of claims made by parties that details of their financial statements are in the public domain.

According to data analyzed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the total funds received by six national political parties between 2004-2005 and 2011-2012 was Rs 4,895.96 crore of which only 8.9% was from known donors. Around Rs 3,674.50 crore or 75.5% were anonymous contributions. Parties also generate funds from sale of coupons and donations from electoral trusts.

Parties including Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI, CPM and BSP's financial statements submitted to the Election Commission and income tax returns were analyzed by ADR. Congress tops the parties for the largest amount (Rs 1,951.07 crore or 82.5%) in anonymous donations. NCP boasted of the largest proportion of unknown donations at Rs 181.48 crore or 91.58%. About 73% of BJP's contributors and 61.8% of BSP's donors were unknown.

The data has also revealed that an overwhelming majority of political donations were in cash. Congress accepted 90.38% of its total funds between 2008 and 2012 in cash and only 9.62% were in cheque. Over 67% of BJP's total funds were in cash while 83% of NCP's were in cash.

Describing political parties' financial details as under a "veil'', ADR founder member Jagdeep Chhokar said, "The public has no idea about where three-fourths of the funding of political parties comes from. There is complete opacity. That is why it is necessary that RTI Act not be amended.'' The NGO working on electoral reforms has sought complete transparency in donations.

The government had mooted a proposal to amend the RTI Act to exclude political polities following a Central Information Commission ruling in June that ordered political parties to submit to the Act.

Political parties have been opposing the RTI Act saying it was impossible to keep track of all donations. "Why should political parties be the only exception? If NGOs and ordinary citizens are expected to give detailed information about their income and expenditure, why shouldn't political parties' funds be audited,'' Trilochan Sastry, founder member said.

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