A total of 27,133 electoral bonds worth Rs 15,946.30 crore have been sold in 29 tranches since the scheme was launched in 2018, according to data from a Right to Information reply.

Of the total, 26,939 electoral bonds worth Rs 15,922.4222 crore were encashed, the State Bank of India told transparency activist Retired Commodore Lokesh Batra, who filed the Right to Information application.

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.

The entire process is anonymous since no one is required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties do not need 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.

The highest number (3,844) of electoral bonds with a denomination of Rs 1 crore were sold in Mumbai, followed by Hyderabad (3,333) and Kolkata (2,844).

Of the total electoral bonds that were sold, 194 bonds worth over Rs 23.88 crore remained uncashed and were transferred to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

The Centre on Monday announced that the 30th tranche of electoral bond sales will be open from January 2 to January 11.

The Ministry of Finance said that the electoral bonds will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue, and no payment will be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period.

“The electoral bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account shall be credited on the same day,” it added.

Also read: Electoral bonds are a stark example of how there is no level playing field for the Opposition