India’s political parties sold 12,313 electoral bonds worth Rs 6,129 crore and redeemed nearly the entire lot since the launch of the controversial method of political fund-raising, showed a new report.
Electoral bonds were sold in 12 tranches from March 2018 to October 2019 and the Narendra Modi government issued a fresh offering from January 13 to January 22 this year. The report, by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), analysed the total number and value of electoral bonds purchased and redeemed by the political parties, branch-wise and denomination-wise, in the twelve phases.
Electoral bonds have been roundly
criticised by activists who say they conceal ties between politicians and businessmen. The rulling Bharatiya Janata Party is the biggest beneficiary of fund-raising via electoral bonds, numerous studies and reports showed.
ADR, a group that advocates electoral reforms, said it based its analysis on information it received through a Right to Information (RTI) application from the State Bank of India (SBI) on December 2, 2019. SBI, India's largest, is the only authorised bank to issue such bonds.
Up to 59.10 percent of the total value of electoral bonds were purchased in two months alone – March 2019 (phase VIII) and April 2019 (phase IX) — when the general elections were held that year, showed the ADR analysis. Up to 91.76 percent, or Rs 5,624 crore, of the total number of bonds purchased during the twelve phases were in the denomination of Rs 1 crore.
The maximum sale by value of these bonds happened in Mumbai. India’s financial capital purchased 2,899 bonds worth Rs 1,879.96 crore, followed by 3,478 bonds worth Rs 1,440 crore in Kolkata and 1,630 bonds worth Rs 918.58 crore in New Delhi, according to the ADR analysis.
ADR has repeatedly recommended that electoral bonds should be scrapped because it believes these instruments withhold crucial information regarding funding to political parties.Electoral bonds allow individuals or companies to deposit money in a political party’s bank account at SBI. Donors can buy as many bonds as they want without having to reveal their identity. Political parties must declare the amount of money they received through the bonds, but don't have to reveal the identity of the funders.