The Bharatiya Janata Party received 76% of the total electoral bonds sold in 2019-’20 financial year, reported NDTV, citing data it accessed from the Election Commission.

According to the report, the BJP received electoral bonds worth Rs 2,555 crore of the total Rs 3,355 crore worth sold in that year. This was a 75% jump from the Rs 1,450 crore worth of electoral bonds that the BJP had received in 2018-’19.

Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from a bank and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. Former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced this scheme in his Budget speech in 2017, claiming the government wanted to clean up political funding and make it a transparent process.

However, the entire process is anonymous since no one is required to declare their purchase of these bonds and political parties do not need to declare the source of the money. The money is unlikely to be “black” since it has to be given by cheque, the government had reasoned.

These bonds are issued four times every year in January, April, July and October. Last year, they were issued only in January and October.

In 2019-’20, the electoral bonds received by the Congress dropped by 17% to Rs 318 crore as compared to the previous year, according to NDTV. In 2018-’19, the party had received Rs 383 crore from the bonds.

The Trinamool Congress received Rs 100.46 crore worth of electoral bonds, the Nationalist Congress Party Rs 29.25 crore, the Shiv Sena Rs 41 crore, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Rs 45 crore, Rashtriya Janata Dal Rs 2.5 crore and the Aam Aadmi Party Rs 18 crore.

In March last year, India’s seven national parties had received Rs 3,749.37 crore in the 2018-’19 financial year with 67% of it coming from “unknown sources” that cannot be traced, a report by non-profit organisation Association for Democratic Reforms had said.

The report had defined “income from known sources” as donations above Rs 20,000 whose donor details were made available by the parties. Donations less than Rs 20,000 declared in tax returns as income but without identifiable sources were classified as earnings from unknown sources. Such sources include electoral bonds, coupons, relief funds, and contributions from meetings.

Out of the total amount of funding, the BJP had accounted for Rs 1,612.04 crore – 64% of the total income of national parties – from untraceable sources.

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The Political Fix: How BJP’s ‘transparent’ electoral bonds threaten to reshape Indian democracy