Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,429.56 crore were redeemed by political parties in financial year 2019-’20, and 87.29% of this was received by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms said on Friday.
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.
In its report, the Association for Democratic Reforms said the seven national parties that received the bonds that year, which also includes the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), declared a total income of Rs 4,758.20 crore.
Of this, the BJP declared a total income of Rs 3,623.28 crore in 2019-’20 but spent only Rs 1,651.022 crore, or 45.57%, of it, the report said. The BJP’s income forms 76.15% of the total of the seven parties.
The Congress’ total income was Rs 682.21 crore and it spent Rs Rs 998.15 crore. The party’s total expenditure exceeded its income by 46.31%. The Trinamool Congress declared a total income of Rs 143.67 crore and spent 74.67%, or Rs 107.27 crore, of it.
The Nationalist Congress Party Rs 85.58 crore and spent Rs 109.18 crore. The total expenditure exceeded the party’s income by 27.58%.
The Bahujan Samaj Party also spent more than it earned. The party’s total income was Rs 58.256 crore and it spent Rs 95.054 crore, an excess of 63.17%.
The BJP’s total income rose by Rs 1,213.20 crore, or 50.34%, in 2019-’20 as compared to 2018-’19. The total income of the Congress, however, dropped by 25.69% from Rs 918.03 crore in 2018-’19 to Rs 235.82 crore in 2019-’20.
The BJP received 94.60% of its total income, or Rs 3,427.77, from voluntary contributions, according to the report. The Congress’ main source of income of Rs 469.38 crore, was from grants, donations and contributions.
The major source of income for political parties was electoral bonds. The BJP, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party Rs 2,993.82, or 62.92% of their total income, from electoral bonds.
The BJP received electoral bonds worth Rs 2,555 crore, the Congress Rs 317.86 crore, the Trinamool Congress Rs 100.46 crore and the Nationalist Congress Party Rs 20.50 crore.
Expenditure by parties
The BJP’s maximum expenditure of Rs 1,352.92 crore went towards election/general propaganda followed by administrative costs (Rs 161.54 crore). The Congress spent most of its income – Rs 864.03 crore – on election expenditure followed by Rs 99.39 crore on administrative and general expenses.
The National Congress Party spent Rs 84.12 crore, the Trinamool Congress Rs 74.56 crore and the Bahujan Samaj Party Rs 51.75 crore on election expenditure.
The CPI(M) spent Rs 37.94 crore on employee cost and the CPI Rs 2.95 crore on administrative and general expenses.