Association of Democratic Reforms in its latest report has said that political parties received more than 50 per cent of funds from unknown sources. Interestingly, 80 per cent of these funds from unknown sources went to the ruling BJP.
National parties namely Bhartiya Janta Party, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, All India Trinamool Congress, and the Communist Party of India were included in the analysis. All the parties received Rs 8721.14 crore put together from unknown sources between fiscal 2004-05 and 2017-18.
The largest chunk of Rs 533 crore was received by the ruling BJP for the fiscal year 2017-18. The report says that this amounts to 80 per cent of the total donations received by all the other political parties (Rs 689.44 crore). The underlining fact here is that the money accounts for 53.8% of the donations received by the saffron party which received over Rs 1000 crore in donations.
The major chunk of about 31 per cent or Rs 215 crore of these unknown funds has come from the electoral bonds. All of these were received by the BJP. The electoral bonds scheme of political donations was introduced by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the budget of fiscal year 2017-18. In the same budget, the cap on the declaration for cash donations was reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2000.
According to the I-T act, all the political parties are allowed to avoid declaring the sources of the funds received in cash if the amount is below Rs 2000.
This report, however, has considered the previous limit of Rs 20000.
The interesting factor here is that CPI received no voluntary donations below Rs 20000.
According to the ADR, the I-T returns filed by the political parties is the only source for knowing their income sources, apart from that acquired by the sale of moveable and immovable assets, old newspapers, membership fees, delegate fee, bank interest, the sale of publications.