Twenty-five regional parties in India collected Rs 445.774 crore or 55.50% of their total income from “unknown sources” in the financial year 2019-’20, the Association for Democratic Reforms said in a report released on Thursday.
The non-governmental organisation’s report said 95.616%, or Rs 426.233 crore, of the donations came from electoral bonds. These 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.
The report added that regional parties collected Rs 4.976 crore from voluntary contributions. It also noted that the donations received by national parties from “unknown sources” amounted to 70.98% of their income.
In its report for 2018-’19 fiscal, the poll rights group found that the total income of 23 regional parties added up to Rs 885.956 crore, of which Rs 481.276 crore or 54.32%, came from “unknown sources”. There has been a 1.18% jump in income from “unknown sources”.
“At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs 20,000,” the latest report said. “As a result, a substantial amount of funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources.”
Political parties from South India – Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Telugu Desam Party, YSR Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – were among those who declared the highest “unknown” donations.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi declared Rs 89.158 crore, Telugu Desam Party reported Rs 81.694 crore, YSR Congress party declared Rs 74.75 crore and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu collected Rs 45.50 crore.
The Association for Democratic Reforms added that income contribution reports of the Aam Aadmi Party, Indian Union Muslim League and the Lok Jansakhti Party are available but their donation data shows discrepancies.
“This is an example of disregard of the parties towards the guidelines formulated for transparency and disclosure requirements,” the report said.
In September, the association had found that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party received Rs 2,642.63 crore from unidentified sources in the financial year 2019-’20. “This income of [the] BJP is 3.5 times more the aggregate of income from unknown sources declared by the other six national parties [Rs 734.78 crore],” the report added.