The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said it received Rs 743 crore in donations through cheques and online payments in the 2018-’19 financial year, the Hindustan Times reported. This was over three times more than the total amount received by all other six national parties. The Congress received Rs 147 crore in such donations.

Of the donations declared by the BJP, the Tatas-controlled Progressive Electoral Trust gave Rs 356 crore in donation, while the Prudent Electoral Trust, said to be India’s richest trust, granted donations of Rs 54.25 crore, the party told the Election Commission, according to PTI.

Prudent Electoral Trust is backed by Bharti Group, Hero MotoCorp, Jubilant Foodworks, Orient Cement, DLF, JK Tyres, and several other corporate houses. The information the BJP provided the Election Commission pertains to donations of Rs 20,000 and above received through cheques or online payments. They do not include donations through electoral bonds.

The election code makes it compulsory for political parties to declare all donations they receive in a financial year. However, they do not have to disclose the names of individuals or entities who contributed less than Rs 20,000.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 277 crore have been sold since the General Elections in April-May this year, non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms said earlier this month. The worth of electoral bonds sold so far since March 2018 had reached Rs 6,128 crore by October, the organisation said.

Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. These bonds are anonymous. The scheme was introduced in January 2018.

In April, a Right to Information query had revealed that 99.8% of donations that political parties received through electoral bonds between March 2018 and January 24, 2019, were of the highest denominations – Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.

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