Source: 
The Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Political-donors-dont-discriminate-Study/articleshow/7213773.cms
Author: 
Himanshi Dhawan
Date: 
04.01.2011
City: 
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Entrepreneurs like to plan for all political eventualities. At least that's what an analysis of voluntary contributions made by major corporates like Bharti Airtel, Torrent Videocon, Ambuja Cement and Adani Group reveals. It shows these companies gave away crores to parties of all hues, including arch-rivals Congress and BJP.

The most generous donor between 2007 and 2009 was Bharti Electoral Trust - controlled by Bharti Airtel - that contributed a total of Rs 17 crore to BJP and Congress. Torrent Power Ltd gave away Rs 10 crore, including two contributions to Congress of Rs 4.5 crore each and one to NCP of Rs 1 crore. The third highest contribution was by A V Birla Group's General Electoral Trust that made donations of Rs 6 crore to BJP.

Political parties under section 13A of the Income Tax Act get tax exemption on all voluntary contributions above Rs 20,000.

As part of efforts to make the funding process more transparent, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) decided to study the contribution reports attached by political parties along with their tax returns.

Interestingly, it found the same set of names appearing on the donors' list of nearly all political parties. For instance, the top donors for the Congress are Bharti Electoral Trust, Torrent Power Limited, Adani (Wilmar and Enterprises Ltd) and Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd.

BJP also has Bharti Electoral Trust on top of its contributors' list, which includes General Electoral Trust and Popatbhai Ukabhai Vekariya. Torrent Power Ltd, Ambuja Cement, Value Industries, Nippon Investment and Finance Ltd and Infina Finance Ltd are major contributors to NCP while Samajwadi Party enjoys the generosity of Honda Siel Cars India Ltd and Pranveer Singh Institute of Technology.

BSP declared that it did not receive a single voluntary contribution in excess of Rs 20,000 although the party got over Rs 202 crore in total contributions between 2007-2009.

According to accounts, only 10%, or Rs 72 crore, out of Rs 717 crore that Congress received as funds came from voluntary contributions during 2007-09. Similarly, NCP too claimed that Rs 6 crore or 10% of the total income of Rs 57 crore was drawn from donations. Other parties like BJP, BSP and SP have declared that contributions constitute over 45% of their total income.

"In order to bring transparency, the contribution reports submitted by the political parties with their income tax returns should be audited by the CAG and Pan card declarations of all donors be made compulsory," said Anil Bairwal, ADR national coordinator.

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