Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
Heavy sums of donations to political parties came from unknown sources in the last four years. The Election Commission (EC) has been trying to discourage the practice even as more than 3,000 donations in the said period came without donors’ details like Permanent Account Number (PAN) or addresses, said Delhi-based think tank, Association of Democratic Rights (ADR) in a report.
Parties are required to provide details of the name, address, PAN, mode of payment and amount contributed by each donor who has made a contribution above Rs 20,000 in their submission.
The ADR, in an August 18 report analysed the donations from corporates to national parties between financial year (FY) 2012-13 to 2015-16.
“Political parties considered for the report are (Bharatiya Janata Party) BJP, (Indian National Congress) INC, (Nationalist Congress Party) NCP, (Communist Party of India) CPI and (Communist Party of India (Marxist)) CPM. Though a National party, (Bahujan Samaj Party) BSP has not been considered for analysis in this report as the party has declared that it received no voluntary contributions above Rs 20,000 from any donor between FY 2012-13 and 2015-16,” said the report.
BJP received the maximum corporate donations in FY 2014-15
The report found that various sectors of business houses donated a total of Rs 956.77 crore, constituting 89% of the total contribution to political parties from known sources.
Out of the 5 national parties, BJP received the maximum donations of Rs 705.81 crore from 2,987 corporate donors, followed by INC which received a total contribution of Rs 198.16 crore from 167 corporate donors.
The maximum corporate donations were received in the FY 2014-15, when the Lok Sabha elections were held; the said period alone forms 60% of the total corporate donations received between FY 2012-13 and 2015-16.
The top three corporate houses donated to both BJP and INC
Satya Electoral Trust was the top donor to three of the National Parties, between FY 2012-13 and 2015-16.
BJP declared receiving Rs 193.62 crore while INC was the recipient of Rs 57.25 crore of funds from the trust. NCP received Rs 10 crore from Satya Electoral Trust during the same period.
General Electoral Trust, which was formed before the Electoral Scheme was launched by the Government in 2013, was the second highest corporate donor to BJP and INC. Between FY 2012-13 & 2015-16, the Trust donated Rs 70.7 crore and Rs 54.1 crore to the two National Parties, respectively.
The top donors to both the communist parties were ‘Associations’ or ‘Unions’.
Rs 384.04 crore donations without PAN details
There was a total of 1,933 donations which did not have PAN details in the contribution form and national parties received Rs 384.04 crore.
National parties received Rs 355.08 cr from 1546 donations which do not have address details in the contribution form.
99% of such donations without PAN and address details worth Rs 159.59 crore belong to the BJP.
Additionally, Political parties reported receiving 262 donations worth Rs 10.48 cr from such corporate entities who have zero internet presence or if they do there is ambiguity about the nature of their work.
Recommendations of ADR
The think tank, citing a 2013 Supreme Court judgement, said that no part of the Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above Rs 20,000 should be left blank.
The report said that donors who have made a minimum donation of Rs 20,000 as a single or multiple donations should provide their PAN details, adding that the date on which the donation was made should also be recorded by the party and submitted in form 24A.
“Any party which does not submit its donation statement to the (Election Commission of India) ECI on or before 31st Oct should be heavily penalized and its income should not be tax-exempted,” continued the report.
The incomplete contributions must be returned to the parties by the ECI to prevent its repetition in future, while corporates should make details of their political contributions available on public domain.
The Logical Indian community hopes that the recommendations of the ADR are implemented by the government. In a democracy a small group of super-rich individuals should never be given the right to endlessly donate to their choice of parties, thereby cementing their control on them even after they win. The top three corporate houses donated to more than two parties, which shows that they want power no matter which party rules. Transparency is the backbone of a healthy democracy. Citizens should be aware of the backing the political parties they support receives.
You can read the full ADR report here.
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