ADR report: Over 55% donations to regional parties from ‘unknown’ sources, most via electoral bonds

Over 55% of the donations received by regional parties in FY 2019-20 came from “unknown” sources, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said in a report Thursday. According to the report, electoral bonds accounted for nearly 95% of the donations from “unknown” sources.

While the total donations received by 25 regional parties in FY 2019-20 added up to Rs 803.24 crore, Rs 445.7 crore was attributed to “unknown” sources, the report said. Of the donations from “unknown” sources, Rs 426.233 crore (95.616%) came from electoral bonds, and Rs 4.976 crore from voluntary contributions.

The report noted that donations received by national parties from “unknown” sources added up to 70.98% of their income.

Interestingly, parties in the south — TRS, TDP, YSR Congress Party, DMK and JD(S) — topped the list of regional parties with highest incomes from “unknown” sources. The list also includes Odisha’s ruling BJD. Some top regional parties to declare highest “unknown” donations were: TRS (Rs 89.158 crore), TDP (Rs 81.694 crore), YSR Congress Party (Rs 74.75 crore), BJD (Rs 50.586 crore) and DMK (Rs 45.50 crore).

The donations received by regional parties from “known” donors (details of donors as available from contribution report submitted to Election Commission) added up to Rs 184.623 crore, which is 22.98% of their total income; they received another Rs 172.843 crore (21.52% of total income) from other known sources like membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, party levy etc.

In its report for FY 2018-19, analysed for 23 regional parties which filed their annual audit and contribution reports, the ADR had said their total income added up to Rs 885.956 crore, of which Rs 481.276 crore (54.32%) came from “unknown” sources.

“Since a very large percentage of the income of political parties cannot be traced to the original donor, full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI,” the ADR noted. It suggested that any organisation that receives foreign funding should not be allowed to support or campaign for any candidate or party. “The mode of payment of all donations (above and below Rs 20,000), income from sale of coupons, membership fees, etc. should be declared by the parties in… audit reports, submitted to the I-T department and ECI,” it said.

Spent Rs 252 crore in 5 Assembly polls: BJP

The BJP spent Rs 252 crore in the polls held in Assam, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala this year, of which over Rs 151.18 crore was used for its West Bengal poll campaign, according to the party’s election expenditure statement submitted to the EC, published on Thursday. The TMC submitted that it spent Rs 154.28 crore on the West Bengal elections.

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