Electoral Bonds Worth Over Rs 4.5k Cr Undeclared: All Went to BJP?
Around Rs 6,000 crore worth of electoral bonds were sold in the Financial Year 2018-19. Annual audit reports filed by national and state political parties to the Election Commission of India (EC) studied by The Quint suggest that over Rs 4,500 crore worth of electoral bonds went to the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The BJP is yet to file the annual audit report with the EC. Top sources in the Congress claim that their party has received Rs 550 crore in electoral bonds and has already submitted the report, but the EC has not yet made it public on their website for reasons not known. The last date to submit the annual audit report to EC was 31 October.
The BJP spokesperson and the party treasurer’s office are silent on filing of the annual audit report and the sum received through electoral bonds.
When we contacted the national co-convenor of the BJP media cell Sanjay Mayukh for information on the audit report, we were told to contact party General Secretary Arun Singh. In spite of several calls and messages to Singh, we haven’t received any reply.
We also tried to contact BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal on his verified twitter account ‘PiyushGoyaloff’, but instead of getting a reply, our Twitter account was blocked. We contacted Goyal on his email and phone but till now haven’t got any response.
The EC also hasn’t replied to our query pertaining to BJP’s annual audit report.
Congress Received Around Rs 550 cr via Electoral Bonds: Sources Tell The Quint
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received 95%, worth Rs 210 crore, of the electoral bonds sold in the Financial Year 2017-18 as declared by the party in its annual audit report to the Election Commission of India (EC).
The annual audit report reveals the total income and expenditure of the political parties including donation received through electoral bonds.
Twenty national and state political parties have filed the annual audit reports to the EC. After studying the annual audit reports, we have found that out of 20, only 5 political parties received donations through electoral bonds, which were worth Rs 587 crore approximately.
- Trinamool Congress (TMC): Rs 97.28 crore
- Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS): Rs 141.50 crore
- Janta Dal United (JDU): Rs 35.25 crore
- Biju Janta Dal (BJD): Rs 213.50 crore
- YSR Congress Party (YSRCP): Rs 99.84 crore
The annual audit report also reflects that some big political parties like BSP, SP, Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party did not receive donations through electoral bonds.
Electoral bonds are sold in denominations like Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 Lakh, Rs 10 Lakh and Rs 1 crore. Some political parties not receiving even receiving a small amount of bonds could be because majority of the public chose other means to donate.
It’s Mandatory To Reveal Electoral Bonds Donations To EC
With the amendment of Section 29C of the People’s Representation Act and Section 13A of the IT Act in the Finance Act, 2017, a political party does not require to maintain books of accounts and other documents or furnish information (names and addresses of donors as well as amounts) related to electoral bonds to the EC.
Can Political Parties be Penalised For Not Meeting the Deadline?
The EC can send a show cause notice to political parties for failing to file the annual audit report within the stipulated time.
“The EC can maximum send a show cause notice seeking a reply on the delay and generally political parties in response tender apologies and explain the delay. I feel that political parties should be fined for the delay and if they are persistently delaying in filing the report then the EC should’ve the power to de-register the political party.”SY Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner
Who Are The Donors of Rs 6,000 crore?
The Electoral Bonds scheme was notified by PM Narendra Modi’s government in January 2018. The scheme was touted to bring in more transparency in political funding and to stop inflow of cash.
But in reality, it made the political funding process opaque because political parties are not required to inform the EC about the donor of the electoral bonds. Hence, the public would never know who are the donors of Rs 6000 crore.
In an RTI reply, the State Bank of India has revealed that 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. This takes the total amount of money collected by by political parties via electoral bonds past Rs 8,000 crore.
The Quint, in a series of articles, had reported how and why electoral bonds are dangerous to democracy.
Based on The Quint’s investigation on the electoral bonds, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court demanding a stay on the sale of electoral bonds. The SC ordered all political parties to separately file a report to the EC in a sealed cover on donations received through electoral bonds by May 2019. Since the report was filed in a sealed cover, nobody except for the SC can view the report.
The big questions are:
Why hasn’t the BJP filed the annual audit report to the EC?
Who are the donors of the electoral bonds and will the public ever know who they are?
If less than 20% of the electoral bonds sold in FY 2018-19 went to major national and state political parties other than the BJP, who received the lion's share?
The Quint will update the article as and when we receive response from the BJP and the EC.
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