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Only one of 41 registered Unrecognised political parties eligible for donations: Report

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New Delhi, Nov 08: Out of the 41 parties whose required vote share details are available, only one party meets the eligibility criteria, of securing at least one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, for receiving donations through Electoral Bonds.

This party is called Godwana Gantantra Party (GGP) which last contested in Chhattisgarh Assembly Election 2018, securing a vote share of 1.73% of the total votes polled.

Only one of 41 registered Unrecognised political parties eligible for donations: Report

Out of the 67 Registered Unrecognised political parties, the required vote share details of the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State are available for 41 political parties. While for two political parties namely Namadho Kongu Munnetra Kalagam and Socialist Party (Secular), vote share details are available for by-elections only, says a report prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

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ADR filed a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking a list of all political parties that submitted details of their donations received through Electoral Bonds to the ECI in sealed cover. The reply received from the ECI dated November 05, 2019 enumerated a total of 93 such political parties including National Parties (& their State units), State Parties and Registered Unrecognised Parties.

Of these, 67 parties were Registered Unrecognised Political Parties who submitted details of donations through Electoral Bonds to ECI in sealed cover in compliance with SC's interim order.

This report, prepared by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), examines the eligibility of the aforementioned 67 Registered Unrecognised Parties to receive donations through Electoral Bonds in accordance with the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018. For this purpose, ADR analysed the required vote share details available for 41 of these political parties in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State contested by them.

The vote share of the remaining 40 parties, that submitted details of donations received through Electoral Bonds to the ECI in sealed cover, range between maximum of 0.86% and minimum of 0.0003%.

Of the remaining 24 political parties that submitted details of donations received through Electoral Bonds to the ECI in sealed cover, the details of the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State contested are not available on the ECI website for 13 parties.

There are ten parties which last contested in Lok Sabha elections 2019 and one party which last contested in the October 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections only. The vote share of these eleven parties have not been considered for analysis of eligibility to receive Electoral Bonds as the SC interim order required the submission of details of donations through Electoral Bonds upto 15th May, 2019.

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As of 5 November, 2019, out of 93 political parties that submitted their required details in sealed cover to the Election Commission of India (ECI), only 19 parties submitted the details on or before May 30 2019 in compliance with the Supreme Court interim order dated April 12, 2019.

The remaining 74 parties including National parties (& their State units) such as BJP, INC, CPI (M); State Parties such as JD(U), BJD, AIADMK, IUML, SAD and several Registered Unrecognised parties submitted the details after 30th May, 2019.

There is no list of political parties eligible to receive donations through Electoral Bonds, as per the eligibility criteria mentioned in the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018, available in the public domain or on the website of the ECI. In a reply to ADR's RTI application dated 10th October, 2019, ECI responded that it has not compiled any such list.

The Scheme mentions that the bond can be encashed only by an eligible political party by depositing the same in their designated bank account, raising the question that how political parties which fail to meet the required eligibility under the Scheme have submitted details on Electoral Bonds to ECI in sealed cover.

There seems to be no scrutiny by any authority at any stage prior to redemption of Electoral Bonds by political parties not eligible to encash bonds under the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018.

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