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Electoral Bonds Exclusive: These Firms Were BJP's Top Donors During 2019 Polls

Who were BJP's top donors ahead of 2019 elections? Fresh data helps zero in on some firms.

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On 17 March, the Election Commission of India (ECI) uploaded the contents of the sealed envelopes received from political parties providing details of the donations they received via electoral bonds.

However, only a handful of parties such as the DMK, AIADMK and Janata Dal-Secular disclosed details of the companies who purchased their electoral bonds.

The bonds received by the BJP - over Rs 8,700 crore - are comparable to what was donated to all the other parties put together. However, the party has not declared which companies had purchased these bonds.

The second and third largest recipients - the Congress and Trinamool Congress - have also not disclosed this information.

These parties have stated that they do not have this information.

According to the BJP, they have not maintained this information and they are not required to do so. Their complete position is in the end of the story.

However, based on the details provided by the BJP, we are able to arrive at some conclusions about the top companies that may have donated to it.
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In this story, we will be looking at transactions from 12 April to 10 May, 2019, when the last Lok Sabha elections were underway. We are ending at 10 May because that's the last date in May 2019 in the data base of bond-purchasers provided by the State Bank of India (SBI) and published on the Election Commission website. The next date after this is in July 2019.

The Quint is examining the entire Electoral Bonds data that has been made public and we will bring out these details in our subsequent stories.

Based on the details provided by the BJP and the database of bond-purchasers uploaded on the ECI website, these were the biggest one-day donations to the BJP and the firms behind them.

0

MKJ Group

There are three transactions of interest here.

8 May: Rs 150 crore

On 8 May, 150 bonds of Rs 1 crore each belonging to the BJP were purchased in Kolkata. They were deposited on 10 May.

We looked at the list of bond purchasers provided by SBI and uploaded on the Election Commission website. On 8 May, there is only one company or group of companies that purchased bonds at that scale on that date.

This is the Kolkata-based MKJ Group.

On 8 May, Madan Lal Pvt Ltd - which is part of the MKJ Group - purchased bonds worth Rs 110 crore.

Another company from the same group - Keventer Food Park Infra Limited purchased bonds worth Rs 65 crore on the same day.

Both these companies are promoted by Radheshyam Khetan and have the same address listed - Sagar Estate 2, Clive Ghat Street, Kolkata 700001

We checked the electoral bond transactions from 8 May (date of purchase) till 10 May (date of deposit). Even put together, the amount donated to non-BJP parties doesn't come even remotely close to Rs 150 crore.

We also checked bonds purchased by companies on 9 and 10 May and even after adding that no one firm or group came close to Rs 150 crore, except for MKJ.

Therefore, this amount can only be explained through donations to the BJP.

10 May: Rs 74 Crore

The same group seems to have made another big purchase of BJP's electoral bonds in the same period.

On 10 May, 74 bonds of Rs 1 crore each were purchased for the BJP in Kolkata, as per the date disclosed by the party.

Looking at corresponding date in the bond-purchasers database, we found out that on 10 May, Madan Lal Pvt Ltd purchased 75 bonds of Rs 1 crore each, besides a number of bonds of Rs 10 lakh. No other company or group of companies purchased bonds worth over 70 crore on 10 May.

16 April: Rs 50 crore

On 16 April, 50 bonds worth Rs 1 crore belonging to the BJP were purchased in Kolkata.

Data for 16 April on the bond-purchasers database shows that Keventer Foodpark Infra Limited bought 55 bonds worth Rs 1 crore each on that day. No other company or group of companies bought 50 or more bonds of Rs 1 crore on that day.

Now, even the Trinamool Congress could have been a recipient of donations via electoral bonds from Kolkata-based companies. However, the total amount the TMC received between 12 April to 22 May is about Rs 51 crore.

Therefore the huge amounts of electoral bonds purchased by the MKJ group are nearly impossible without donations to the BJP.

We have reached out to both Madanlal Pvt Ltd and Keventer Foodpark. This story will be updated as and when they respond.

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Infotel Group

According to the Electoral Bonds data disclosed by the BJP — on 9 May, 50 bonds of Rs 1 crore each were purchased in New Delhi and they were deposited the next day.

We checked out the bond-purchasers database for 9-10 May, we didn't find any one single company that had purchased 50 bonds of Rs 1 crore.

However, we found four interlinked entities who purchased bonds worth Rs 50 crore on 9 May.

  • NexG Devices: 20 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Infotel Business Solutions: 15 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Infotel Technologies Private Limited: 10 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Infotel Access Enterprises: 5 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

The four companies have the same listed address - D-7 Dhawandeep Apartments, 6, Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi - 110001.

They have a number of directors in common as well. For example, Surendra Lunia is listed as director in NexG Devices and Infotel Business Solutions and Kamal Kumar Sharma is listed as a director in Infotel Business Solutions, Infotel Technologies and Infotel Access Enterprises. He is also listed as a director in NexG Ventures that is linked to NexG Devices.

According to a report in The New Indian Express, Lunia was a director in a small entity which purchased HomeShop18, the e-commerce venture of Network 18 Group owned by Mukesh Ambani.

We have reached out to all four entities mentioned for a response. We will update the copy as and when they reply.

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Bonds Worth Rs 58 Crore Purchased by 5 Interlinked Firms

According to the data disclosed by BJP, on 6 May, 58 bonds worth Rs 1 crore each were purchased for the party in Mumbai.

We checked the bond-purchasers database published on the EC website. On that date, there is no one individual company that has purchased bonds in that range.

However, we found a group of interlinked companies that have a number of Rs 1 crore bonds that add up to 58.

These companies are:

  • Ishan Technical Plant Services Private Limited - 16 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Talento Technical Plant Private Limited - 12 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Real Technical Solutions Private Limited - 11 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Jai Bharat Technical Services Private Limited - 10 bonds of Rs 1 crore each

  • Industrial Techno Manpower Supply and Services Private Limited - 9 bonds of Rs 1 crore each.

These firms have the same address listed - Ground Floor, Priyamvada Building, Jindal Colony, VPO Vasind, Tal Shahapur Vasind Thane, Maharashtra 421604.

However, two of the firms are listed at Room 77 at this address while three are at Room 74 at the same address.

Sunil Naik Shankar is listed as the director in Ishan, Talento, Jai Bharat and Industrial Techno Manpower Supply firms.

Shrikanth Naryan Shetty is listed as the director in Real Technical Solutions and Talento.

Ajay Kant Jha is listed as a director in Real Technical Solutions and Ishan Techical.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma is listed as a director in Industrial Techno and Jai Bharat.

According to a report in Business Standard from January 2013, three of these firms were named in an alleged graft case being probed by the CBI. At that time, former Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa and his sons were also named in the case. However, that case didn't lead anywhere.

We have reached out to these five firms for a response. We will update the story when they reply.

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Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited

In the list provided by the BJP, there is a purchase of 45 bonds of Rs 1 crore each on 12 April in Hyderabad. The date of receipt is 15 April and date of deposit is 16 April.

We checked the purchasers list for 12, 15 and 16 April (13 and 14 April are not there in the list).

The only firm from Hyderabad to have purchased bonds in this range in this period is Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited. It purchased 50 bonds of Rs 1 crore each on 12 April.

It is possible that a majority of these could have gone to the BJP.

There is another transaction that we examined which could be of interest.

On 9 May, 35 bonds of the BJP worth Rs 1 crore were purchased in Hyderabad. The date of receipt is 9 May and date of deposit is 10 May.

We looked at the corresponding dates on the purchasers' list. It showed that Megha Engineering purchased 35 bonds of Rs 1 crore each on the same day.

On 9-10 May, this is the only firm from Hyderabad to make a donation in this range, based on the data provided in the purchasers' list.

Overall, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure bought bonds worth Rs 125 crore from 12 April to 22 May.

Now, it is true that Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) also got some donations from Hyderabad based companies. However, the total electoral bonds encashed by BRS from 12 April, 2019 to 22 May 2019 amount to Rs 37.5 crore. This is less than the Rs 50 crore donated by Megha Engineering and Infrastructure on 12 April alone.

Therefore, even if Megha donated generously to BRS, the lion's share of its funds went elsewhere.

We have reached out to Megha Engineering and Infrastructure for a response. We will update the story as and when they reply.

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Two More Purchases of Interest

There are two more bond purchases of over Rs 50 crore in the BJP list, both on 12 April and in Mumbai.

One amounts to 50 crore and the other amounts to 79 crore.

Now, on that day there are two groups that have purchased 50 or more bonds of Rs 1 crore.

1. Aditya Birla Group

This includes 49 bonds of Rs 1 crore each by Essel Mining and 20 bonds of Rs 1 crore each by Grasim Industries.

2. Piramal Group

This includes 40 bonds of PHL Finvest, 10 bonds of Piramal Capital and Housing and 10 bonds of Piramal Enterprises.

Out of these only the Piramal Group companies are listed in Mumbai. However, we cannot conclusively say which of these firms was behind the purchase of 50 bonds of Rs 1 crore each on this day.

We also could not find enough data to decisively zero in on which company of group may have been behind the purchase of 79 bonds of Rs 1 crore in Mumbai.

However, we have reached out to the Piramal Group for a response. We will update the copy as and when they reply.

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Caveats and BJP's Response

This data is based on the premise that the dates and figures disclosed by the BJP and the list of electoral-bond purchasers provided by the SBI and published in the EC website are accurate.

We have zeroed in on these companies based on large purchases on a single day. However, it is possible that there may be firms with high donations for the BJP in April-May 2019 but with smaller but more frequent transactions. Those are tougher to pick. In either case, the above case studies will be among BJP's top donors in this period.

This is the BJP's stand as given in the document it gave in the sealed envelope:

"It is duly submitted that as per the applicable laws stated above, the Party is not required to maintain the names and particulars of the donors of the Electoral Bonds and as such the Party has not maintained these particulars.

There is an exemption from maintaining any details regarding the particulars of donations received though Electoral Bonds in the Income Tax Act, 1961 as well.

The Electoral Bonds were introduced with the aim of bringing only accounted for funds in political funding while protecting the donors from any consequences therefrom."

(With inputs from Abhilash Mallick.)

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