BJP got Rs. 1400 crores from unknown sources in 2022-23

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India Tomorrow

New Delhi–The political parties in India get more than 59% of the funds from ‘unknown’ sources that cannot be traced and the Bhartiya Janata Party gets the maximum chunk of such funds.

An analysis of the audit reports and donations statements of the political parties filed with the Election Commission of India (ECI) shows that the sources of their income remain largely unknown.

This analysis has been done by ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms). The amount of income from known sources as per the audit report is Rs. 1832.8788 crores. Income from known sources as donations as declared to the ECI is 27.64 percent (Rs. 850.438 crores). Income from other known sources is 12.79 percent (Rs. 393.5652 crores). The total income of political parties is RS. 3076.882 crores.

According to ADR’s analysis, during the financial year 2022-23, the Bhartiya Janata Party declared Rs 1400.2398 crore as income from unknown sources which is 76.396% of the total income of National Parties from unknown sources. The total income of all the National Parties from unknown sources is Rs 1832.8788 crores.

This income of the BJP is Rs 967.6008 crore more than the aggregate income from unknown sources declared by the other 5 National Parties. The five other National Parties got Rs 432.639 crore from unknown sources.

The INC (Indian National Congress) declared Rs 315.114 crore as income from unknown sources which is 17.192% of the total income of National Parties from unknown sources.

At present, political parties are not required to reveal the names of individuals or organizations giving less than Rs. 20,000. This includes the controversial Electoral Bonds.

Out of Rs 1832.8788 crores as income from unknown sources, the share of According to the ADR report, income from Electoral Bonds was Rs 1510.6199 crore which is 82.42% during the financial year 2022-2023.

Only the donation of above Rs. twenty thousand is defined as income from known sources. The details of the known donors are available through contributions reports as submitted by National parties to the ECI.

The unknown sources are income declared in the annual audit report but without giving a source of income for donations below Rs. twenty thousand.

Such unknown sources include ‘donations via Electoral Bonds (which are now prohibited as per Supreme Court ruling.)’, ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, ‘contribution from meetings/morchas’ etc. The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.

Other known sources of income include the sale of moveable & immoveable assets, old newspapers, membership fees, delegate fee, bank interest, sale of publications and levy whose details would be available in the books of accounts maintained by political parties.

After analysing the donation data, ADR has made some recommendations. Its first recommendation is that full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI (Right to Information) since a very large percentage of the income of political parties cannot be traced to the original donor. This is done in countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan.

Its second recommendation is that mode of payment of all donations (above and below Rs 20,000), income from 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.

The ADR report says that as per ECI recommendation tax exemption should be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok Sabha/ 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 says that it 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.

ADR recommends that scrutiny of financial documents submitted by the political parties should be conducted annually by a body approved by CAG and ECI to enhance transparency and accountability of political parties concerning their funding.

ADR says that the National and Regional political parties must provide all information under the Right to Information Act. However, RTI or not, political parties should voluntarily account for every rupee that they get or spend.

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