Shillong, March 11: Over Rs 17,249.45 crore was collected by the national parties from “unknown sources” between the financial year 2004-05 and 2021-22.
This was as per the analysis of their Income Tax Returns and donations statements filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Association for Democratic Reforms said in a press release today.
During FY 2021-22, BJP declared Rs 1161.0484 cr as income from unknown sources which is 53.45 per cent of the total income of National Parties from unknown sources (Rs 2172.231 cr).
This income of the BJP is Rs 149.8658 cr more than the aggregate of income from unknown sources declared by the other 6 National Parties (Rs 1011.1826 cr).
AITC declared Rs 528.093 cr as income from unknown sources which is 24.3111 per cent of the total income of National Parties from unknown sources.
Out of Rs 2172.231 cr as income from unknown sources, the share of income from Electoral Bonds was Rs 1811.9425 cr or 83.414 per cent.
The combined income of INC and NCP from the sale of coupons between FY 2004-05 and 2021-22 stands at Rs 4398.51 cr.
AITC’s total donations as per the audit report are worth Rs 38 lakhs (excluding donations via Electoral bonds) but the party has declared donations worth Rs 43 lakhs in the donations statement (details of donations above Rs 20,000). Hence, there is a discrepancy in the party’s statement for FY 2021-22.
CPI has declared donations through Levy, Membership fees, Party funds and Election funds.
For this analysis, 8 national parties were considered – BJP, INC, AITC, CPI(M), NCP, BSP, CPI and NPP. However, BSP declared that it did not receive any funds from voluntary contributions (above or below Rs 20,000), the Sale of Coupons or Electoral Bonds or Unknown Sources of income.
The total income of 8 national political parties in 2021-22 is Rs 3289.34 cr.
Total income of political parties from known donors (details of donors as available from contribution report submitted by parties to the Election Commission and analysed by ADR is Rs 780.774 crore which is 23.74 per cent of the total income of the parties.
Total income of political parties from other known sources (e.g. sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, party levy etc.): Rs 336.335 cr, or 10.22 per cent of the total income.
Total income of political parties from unknown sources (income specified in the annual audit report whose sources are unknown): Rs 2172.231 crore which is 66.04 per cent of the total income of the parties.
Out of Rs 2172.231 cr as income from unknown sources, the share of income from Electoral Bonds is Rs 1811.9425 cr or 83.414 per cent.
On income from unknown sources, the ADR said out of the total income of Rs 2172.231 cr of 7 national parties from unknown sources, 83.414 per cent or Rs 1811.9425 cr came from Electoral Bonds.
Income from the sale of coupons declared by INC, CPI(M) & NCP) formed 6.785 per cent (Rs 147.3886 cr) of income from unknown sources while Donations from Voluntary Contributions (below Rs 20,000) formed 9.184 per cent (Rs 199.4951 cr) in income from unknown sources of the 7 national parties.
Meanwhile, the ADR in its recommendations said that since a very large percentage of the income of political parties cannot be traced to the original donor, full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI.
Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan. In none of these countries, it is possible for more than 65% of the source of funds to be unknown, but at present, it is so in India.
Mode of payment of all donations (above and below Rs 20,000), income from the sale of coupons, membership fees, etc should be declared by the parties in the ‘Schedules’ of their audit reports, submitted annually to the Income Tax department and the ECI.
It said the ECI has recommended that tax exemption be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok Sabha or Assembly elections. The Commission has also recommended that details of all donors who donate above Rs 2,000 be declared in the public domain. ADR supports ECI for its strong stand to enforce reforms in the funding of political parties and hopes that these reforms are proactively taken up by the Government for implementation.
Scrutiny of financial documents submitted by the political parties should be conducted annually by a body approved by CAG and ECI so as to enhance transparency and accountability of political parties with respect to their funding.
The national and regional political parties must provide all information under the Right to Information Act. This will only strengthen political parties, elections and democracy. However, RTI or not, political parties should voluntarily account for every rupee that they get or spend.