In a first by any political party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has revealed it's contribution report of 2019/20 to the Election commission that it has received Rs 1 crore from Hindalco Industries through an electoral bond. Hindalco is a copper and aluminium manufacturing company, also runs an Alumina refinery in Jharkhand's town of Muri. The contribution came via bond number AAACH1201R issued by the court compound branch of State Bank of India.
A Scheme That Has Hurt Transparency
Electoral Bonds for political donations were first announced in the union budget of 2017 and introduced in 2018. This scheme has been challenged in the courts by political activists for its lack of transparency and its ability to enable anonymous donations and crony capitalism. The information of electoral donation was shared by Shelly Mahajan who leads the Political Party Watch team at Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit organization working in the area on electoral and political reforms.
Electoral Bonds Dominates The Contributions
Electoral bonds offer anonymity to donors and thereby making it a popular form of donation, particularly among the high value donors. More than half the total income of national parties and the regional parties analyzed by ADR for 2018-19 came from electoral bonds donations. For TMC and BSP Electoral bonds contributed 50.44 percentage of their total income whereas for BJP it stood at 60.17 percent, a huge 1660.89 crore of their total income of 2760.20 crores.
Court Slams The Door Despite Concerns
ADR had approached the Supreme court on March 25 to stop the sale of Electoral bonds ahead of the assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry. The plea though was dismissed.However in its earlier ruling the apex court had expressed concern on alleged misuse of these political contributions for political rallies, violent protests, or funding terror and asked the central government how they plan to control the end usage of these political contributions. As reported by The Indian Express, separately, an RTI query had revealed that the Government spent Rs 4.10 crore to SBI as commission to donors of political parties and Rs 1.86 crorefor printing these Electoral bonds.