Ambiguity found in donations to national parties

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New Delhi, Dec 8: The total amount of donations above Rs 20,000 declared by the National Parties was Rs 622.38 crores, from 1695 donations for the year 2014-2015.

This report, prepared by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), focuses on donations received by the National Political Parties, above Rs 20,000, during the Financial Year 2014-15, as submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Ambiguity found in donations to parties

The National Parties include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).

With 1234 donations from individuals and corporates, BJP tops the list and has declared a total of Rs 437.35 crores as received via voluntary contributions above Rs 20,000. The donations declared by BJP is more than twice the aggregate declared by the INC, NCP, CPI and CPM for the same period.

BSP declared that the party did not receive any donations above Rs 20,000 during FY 2014-15, as it has been declaring for the past 10 years.

Comparison of donations received by National Parties during FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15:

-The total donations of the National Parties during FY 2014-15 increased by Rs 374.61 crores, an increase of 151%, from the previous financial year, 2013-14.

-NCP declared the highest increase of 177%, from Rs 14.02 crores in FY 2013-14 to Rs 38.82 crores in FY 2014-15 while donations to BJP increased from Rs 170.86 crores during FY 2013-14 to Rs 437.35 crores during FY 2014-15 (156% increase).

Incomplete disclosure of information in the donations report

-Rs 83.915 lakhs was declared as received by BJP from 20 such donors whose PAN details, Address and Mode of contribution (together) were unavailable. Thus, only names of such donors and the contributed amount was declared by the party. 73% of such funds came from corporates and 27% from individual donors.

-In the report submitted by INC, the column for declaring mode of contribution does not contain the Cheque/DD numbers, for 192 donations amounting to Rs 138.98 crores.

This forms 98% of total donations above Rs 20,000 to the party. Without the complete cheque/DD details, it would be a time consuming process to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail.

-INC received a total of Rs 55.88 lakhs as donations by cash but PAN details of 11 such donors are unavailable. Similarly, CPI collected a total of Rs 4.49 lakhs as donations by cash from 8 donors whose PAN details are unavailable.

-CPI has not provided the names and PAN number of 27 state secretaries of the party though their contributions amount to Rs 76.81 lakhs.

Top donors to National Parties, FY 2014-15

Bharti Group's Satya Electoral Trust donated a total of Rs 132 crores to BJP, INC and NCP and is one of the top 2 donors to the two parties.

The Trust donated Rs 107.25 crores to BJP (25% of total funds received by the party), Rs 18.75 crores to INC (13% of total funds received by the party) and Rs 6 crores to NCP.

General Electoral Trust had not made any donations to the National Parties during FY 2013-14 but has contributed a total of Rs 117.30 crores to BJP and INC. BJP received Rs 63.2 crores (14% of total funds received by the party) and INC received Rs 54.10 crores (38% of total funds received by the party) from the Trust during FY 2014-15.

PAN details of the Trust were not available in the report submitted by INC and only once (for its donation of Rs 20 lakhs) in the report filed by BJP.

Donations to CPI were by means of collection, levy and membership fees. Maximum amount was from Secretary, Kerala State Council (Rs 20 lakhs) followed by Sudhakar Reddy (Rs 17.88 lakhs).

Donors from Corporates/ business sectors Vs. Individual donors

968 donations from corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 576.37 crores (92.61% of total donations) were made to the National Parties while 699 individual donors donated Rs 45.23 crores (7.27% of total donations) to the parties during FY 2014-15.

794 donations from corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 409.94 crores were made to BJP while 440 individual donors donated Rs 27.41 crores to the party during FY 2014-15.

121 donations from corporate/business sectors amounting to Rs 127.96 crores were made to INC while 159 individual donors donated Rs 13.5 crores to the party.

State-wise donations to National Parties

A total of Rs 260.01 crores was donated to the National Parties from Maharashtra by both corporates and individuals together, followed by Rs 24.76 crores from Gujarat and Rs 15.34 crores from Delhi.

A total of Rs 305.97 crores, (49% of total donations received by the National parties, FY 2014-15), could not be attributed to any State/ Union Territory due to incomplete information provided by the parties.

Recommendations:

There is ambiguity in details of donations declared by the National Parties. In the report submitted by INC, the column for declaring mode of contribution does not contain the Cheque/DD numbers, for 192 donations amounting to Rs 138.98 crores.

This forms 98% of total donations above Rs 20,000 to the party. Without the complete cheque/DD details, it would be a time consuming process to link the donors against their donations and hence trace the money trail.

Rs 83.915 lakhs was declared as received by BJP from 20 such donors whose PAN details, Address and Mode of contribution (together) were unavailable. Thus, only names of such donors and the contributed amount was declared by the party.

73% of such funds came from corporates and 27% from individual donors. Such blatant disregard for rules by the political parties should be curbed and donations with incomplete details should not be entitled to the benefit of 100% tax exemptions of the defaulting parties.

Full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan.

In none of these countries is it possible for 75% of the source of funds to be unknown, but at present it is so in India.

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