Electoral bonds worth Rs 1,006 crore were sold by the State Bank of India and encashed by political parties between November 6 to November 20, amid state Assembly elections in Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

This marks a 400% increase in the quantum of political donations raised through electoral bonds as compared to funds raised during the last Assembly elections in these states. Between November 1, 2018 and November 11, 2018, electoral bonds worth Rs 184.20 crore were sold.

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. Only the State Bank of India can issue or encash electoral bonds through 29 of its branches.

Out of the total bonds issued, 89.9% were issued in denominations of Rs 1 crore, according to the Hindustan Times. A total of 1,109 bonds were purchased, with Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi accounting for 79% of the sales.

The highest sales took place in Hyderbad (Rs 359 crore), Mumbai (Rs 259.30 crore) and Delhi (Rs 182.75 crore). Delhi accounted for the highest amount of funds redeemed (Rs 882.80 crore), followed by Hyderbad (Rs 81.50 crore).

The data shows that most of the funds through this route came from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi, and went to Delhi, suggesting that most of the money went to national parties.

The process of issuing electoral bonds is anonymous since individuals and organisations are not required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties are not required to show the source of the money.

Only the total amount received through the electoral bonds is revealed to the Election Commission through the audited accounts statements. However, the Centre can access information about these donors as it controls the State Bank of India.

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