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Electoral Bonds Data: Many Big Donors From South India Had Faced Central Raids

The firms are primarily based in Hyderabad and range from pharma and infrastructural companies to energy firms.

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At least over a dozen South India-based firms that bought electoral bonds worth over Rs 20 crore have faced action from central agencies like the Income Tax (I-T) Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the past five years.

These firms are primarily based in Hyderabad and range from pharma and infrastructural companies to energy firms. Some of them had connections to regional parties like the Bharat Rashtra Samithi and the YSR Congress Party.

Chief among these South Indian companies are Coimbatore-based Future Gaming and Hotel Services and Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL). They also top the overall list of donors with donations worth Rs 1,368 crore and Rs 966 crore, respectively.

You can read about Future Gaming and MEIL and their run-ins with central agencies here and here.

On closer inspection, it appears that not just Future Gaming and MEIL, but a number of South Indian firms that the central agencies raided in the past had donated money in the form of electoral bonds to political parties. However, with the two sets of data released by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on 14 March, it is impossible to establish who donated to whom.

Let's take a closer look at the data, excluding the top two donors. 

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Which Are the Other Companies?

1. Chennai Green Woods Private Limited: The Income Tax Department officials raided 15 properties of construction firm Chennai Green Woods Private Limited in July 2021. In January and April 2022, the company donated Rs 90 crore in electoral bonds and in October 2023, Rs 15 crore. 

The company is reportedly owned by the Ramky Group, whose chairman is YSRCP leader Rami Reddy, Newslaundry-The News Minute reported. Rami Reddy is reportedly known to be close to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. In fact, Ramky Group was also one of the companies that came under scrutiny during the probe into the disproportionate assets case against Jagan.

2. Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited: In early November 2023, IT officials conducted raids at the premises of Dr K Nagender Reddy of Dr Reddy's Laboratories over allegations of tax evasion. This was part of a larger operation involving searches at the premises of then-Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). Dr Reddy's had bought Rs 84 crore worth of electoral bonds until then.

On 17 November 2023, the firm bought electoral bonds worth Rs 21 crore and on 4 January 2024, worth Rs 10 crore.

3. NCC Limited: The Income Tax Department conducted raids on the premises of NCC, a Hyderabad-based infra firm, in March 2018 and November 2022. The company has donated a total of Rs 60 crore in bonds – Rs 20 crore in October 2019 and Rs 40 crore in October 2022.

4. Divi's Laboratory Limited: Hyderabad-based Divi's Laboratory faced I-T Action in February 2019. In a statement to the National Stock Exchange on 19 February 2019, the company said that "it has extended full cooperation to the officials during the search and provided all the information sought. The search operation concluded on 15th February 2019 and no irregularities have been found."

In March 2020, the lab was also raided by the Telangana State Pollution Control Board.

Divi's bought electoral bonds worth Rs 55 crore on 5 July 2023 and 11 October 2023, incidentally ahead of the Telangana Assembly elections in Novemeber 2023. 

5. Aurobindo Pharma: The Enforcement Directorate, on 10 November 2022, arrested Sarath Reddy, Director of Aurobindo Pharma, in connection with a money laundering probe related to the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. The firm had previously donated Rs 1.6 crore in electoral bonds. Aurobindo purchased multiple bonds of Rs 1 crore each on 8 November, around the time of Reddy's arrest. In total, the firm has donated Rs 52 crore – from 2021 to 2023.

6. Hetero Pharma: Hetero is another major Hyderabad-based pharma company which donated Rs 55 crore between 7 April 2022 and 12 October 2023. In June 2022, shortly after the company donated electoral bonds, the firm's founder B Partha Saradhi Reddy was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by then Telangana Chief Minister and BRS supreme K Chandrasekhar Rao. 

The company, in October 2021, had also faced I-T raids at its offices across the country. 

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7. My Home: Hyderabad-based infra company My Home donated Rs 24 crore as electoral bonds in total. It made the donations on 6 July 2023 and 16 November 2023. Tellapur Techno, a subsidiary of My Home, also purchased Rs 20 crore worth of electoral bonds in July 2023. 

In July 2019, the Income Tax Department raided the residence and offices of My Home Group of Companies chairman Rameshwar Rao Jupally over allegations of tax evasion.

Rameshwar Rao is learnt to have been close to BRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. But reports say they now have strained ties, with the businessman maintaining cordial relations with the BJP.

8. Greenko: While Hyderabad-based Greenko has not faced any raids by central agencies, the energy firm has bought electoral bonds worth Rs 35 crore between 8 April 2022 and 15 November 2023.

In 2022, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy gave the contract of the state's first integrated renewable energy storage project (IRESP) in Kurnool to Greenko. IRESP is an energy storage project that focuses on wind and solar energy. It has an investment of over $3 billion.

9. Shirdi Sai Electricals: Hyderabad-based Shirdi Sai Electricals donated Rs 40 crore as electoral bonds in January 2024. Incidentally, in December 2023, the company's Kadapa office (Andhra Pradesh) was raided by the Income Tax Department.

A manufacturer of electrical goods, Shirdi Sai Electricals was recently given the contract to fix smart meters in agricultural fields across Andhra Pradesh by the state government.

10. Navayuga Engineering: Hyderabad-based Navayuga Engineering Company Private Limited is the company that built the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi which collapsed on 12 November 2023.

It had purchased electoral bonds worth at least Rs 55 crore – Rs 45 crore in 2019 and Rs 10 crore in 2022.

Navayuga Engineering was also one of the two contractors for the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Expressway, where 20 workers and engineers lost their lives in August 2023.

In July 2018, the premises of the company was raided by the Registrar of Companies, in connection with an alleged money laundering case. In October 2018, the Income Tax department raided the Hyderabad premises of Navayuga Engineering over alleged tax evasions by the company.

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11. MSN Pharma: Hyderabad-based MSN Pharma bought electoral bonds worth Rs 38 crore between 8 April 2022 and 16 November 2023.

In February 2021, the I-T Department conducted searches at the offices of the MSN Pharma and seized alleged unaccounted income worth Rs 400 crore.

The company is owned by Manne Satyanarayana Reddy, the brother of BRS MP Manne Srinivas Reddy.

12. NSL Private Limited: In 2018, the Income Tax Department raided the offices and residences of the directors of the agricultural firm NSL Private Limited over allegations of tax evasion to the tune of crores of rupees. The firm bought electoral bonds worth Rs 29.5 crore between 10 October 2022 and 12 April 2023.

South-Based Parties' Share in Bonds

While we cannot ascertain which company gave money to which party, regional parties in South India considerably benefitted from the electoral bonds.

The BRS in Telangana and the YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh were among the top regional parties to get a lion's share of the electoral bonds. While the BRS encashed Rs 1,215 crore – after BJP, TMC, and Congress – while the YSRCP gained Rs 337 crore. The Opposition TDP in Andhra Pradesh raised Rs 218.8 crore.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu encashed Rs 639 crore, the AIADMK Rs 6 crore.

While some of these south-based firms have links to regional parties, it is also possible that they donated to national parties like the BJP and the Congress.

(With inputs from Himanshi Dahiya, Aditya Menon, Fatima Khan, Jaspreet Singh)

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