A Whopping Rs 2,256 Cr Donated Via Electoral Bonds In 10 Days
Spike in sale of electoral bonds in the month of April 2019 to Rs 2256 crore. 
Spike in sale of electoral bonds in the month of April 2019 to Rs 2256 crore. (Photo: The Quint)

A Whopping Rs 2,256 Cr Donated Via Electoral Bonds In 10 Days

In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha Election, one issue that has been discussed and argued over a lot in the Supreme Court is that of electoral bonds scheme. But why so? Because of the alleged opacity of the scheme.

In an RTI reply to Vihar Durv, the State Bank of India has revealed that Rs 2,256,37,12,000 (over Rs 2,256 crore) worth of electoral bonds were sold by the Bank in the month of April 2019 alone, and that too in just 10 days.

Electoral bonds are sold for a fixed number of days in a month, which is usually between first and tenth day of the month. One can clearly understand the increase in the sale of electoral bonds because of the ongoing Lok Sabha Election. But are corporates or individuals choosing bonds as a medium of political donation because donors don’t need to reveal the donations to Income Tax or Election Commission?

The Bank has also revealed a break-up of the amount of bonds sold in 15 different cities in April 2019. Maximum amount of bonds were sold in these four cities:

  • Mumbai - nearly Rs 695 crore
  • Kolkata - nearly Rs 418 crore
  • Delhi - nearly Rs 409 crore
  • Hyderabad - nearly Rs 339 crore
It is clear from the RTI reply that the bulk of electoral bonds were sold in Mumbai, the business capital of the country. This proves that this instrument has been created to facilitate corporate donations to political parties without anybody knowing who has given how much to whom. 
Jagdeep Chhokar, member, Association of Democratic Reform

Also Read : Here’s Why Electoral Bonds Are a Danger to Democracy

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The bar shows the increase in the sale of electoral bonds in 2019.
The bar shows the increase in the sale of electoral bonds in 2019.
(Graphics: Arnica Kala/The Quint)

Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,972 crore were sold this year in the month of January, March and April. It seems that maximum amount of donations are going through the bonds. Whereas, over Rs 1,000 crores (Rs 1056,73,42,000 crores) worth of bonds were sold in 2018 (March, April, May, July, October and November).

Recently, the Supreme Court has also ordered all political parties who have received donations through electoral bonds to reveal the name of the donors to the EC by the end of May this year.

Also Read : Secret Policing? The Quint Finds Hidden Numbers on Electoral Bonds

Public Would Never Know About the Donors or the Recipient of Bonds

Former chief election commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi has said that the electoral bonds scheme suits the ruling party to cover up quid pro quo between the government and the corporate sector.

“The real reason could be that they don’t want return favours [quid pro quo] bestowed by the government [to corporates] in the form of contracts, licences, loans, etc to become public. Instead of making electoral funding more transparent, the process will become way more opaque, with information blacked out from the public.”
SY Quraishi, former CEC

While the Modi government had defended its decision to issue electoral bonds in the Supreme Court by saying it aimed at ensuring "enhanced accountability" and pushing electoral reforms "to defeat the growing menace of black money".

The EC has sharply criticised the introduction of the electoral bonds scheme, calling it a “retrograde step” that opens up the possibility of setting up shell companies through which black money can be used for political funding.

Which Political Parties Got Maximum Donation Through Bonds?

Only the SBI or the government can answer this question because under the electoral bonds scheme, the identity of the donors cannot be made public.

Moreover, the unique alphanumeric hidden number in the electoral bonds will help the government to track the donors of the opposition party.

The 2017-18 annual audit report, submitted by the BJP to the EC, revealed that the political party received 95 percent of the total electoral bonds sold in March 2018. Electoral bonds worth Rs 222 crore were sold in March 2018, of which BJP received Rs 210 crores worth.

The data accessed by The Quint has also indicated that bonds of denominations of Rs 1 crore and Rs 10 lakh were sold the most. There was no demand for bonds of lower denominations like Rs 10,000 or Rs 1 lakh. It can safely be concluded here that maximum donations are made by corporates and not by salaried individuals or small businessmen because they wouldn’t have this kind of money to make political donations.

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