As per the contribution reports of all national parties for 2020-21 now available with the Election Commission, Congress’s donations from individuals, corporates and electoral trusts stood at Rs 74.5 crore, down 46% from Rs 139 crore in 2019-20; NCP’s at Rs 26.2 crore, down 56% from Rs 59.9 crore; CPM’s at Rs 12.8 crore, down 34% from Rs 19.7 crore; CPI’s at Rs 1.49 crore, up 15.5% from Rs 1.29 crore; National People’s Party’s at Rs 59.5 lakh, down 66% from Rs 1.7 crore; and Trinamool Congress’s at Rs 42.5 lakh (down 94% from Rs 8.08 crore). BSP has, as always, declared nil income from contributions of Rs 20,000 each and above.
This is the first time since 2017-18 that contributions made to BJP, both direct and through electoral trusts, have shown a declining trend. It remains to be seen if BJP’s overall income for 2020-21, not yet known as the annual audit report for the relevant year is yet to be made public by the Election Commission, has also fallen. Incidentally, the receipts of all other national parties as per their audit reports for 2020-21, barring CPM’s, showed a dip as compared to 2019-20.
As per provisions of the election law, all parties have to submit a report of receipts of contributions of Rs 20,000 and above to the EC.
A decline in contributions and a corresponding rise in income from electoral bonds — if reflected in BJP’s 2020-21 audit report — could indicate a growing preference of big corporates for electoral bonds as an ‘anonymous’ political funding route.
Major Gen (Retd) Anil Verma, head of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) told TOI, “I have been saying that the real income of parties is now largely coming from electoral bonds. This includes both national parties and regional parties as election bonds suit both the donor and the recipient, given the anonymity they offer. Electoral trusts have taken a beating due to electoral bonds as (in the case of trusts) the names, addresses and mode of funding needs to be declared.”
Verma discounted the possibility of the fall in parties’ contributions during 2020-21 having anything to do with Covid outbreak in March 2020. “Covid has had no impact on corporates’ funding of parties as elections have been happening. Polls were held in Bihar and later in five states,” he said.
While Congress’s income from electoral bonds fell from Rs 317.8 crore in 2019-20 to just over Rs 10 crore in 2020-21, the corresponding figures for BJP will be known only when its audit report for 2020-21 comes out. BJP had earned a whopping Rs 2,555 crore from bonds in 2019-20, up from Rs 1,450 crore in 2018-19.
As per BJP’s contribution report for 2020-21, the party received nearly Rs 212.5 crore from electoral trusts, including Rs 209 crore from Prudent Electoral Trust, Rs 2 crore from Jaybharath Trust, Rs 1 crore from Samaj Electoral Trust and Rs 5 lakh Enzigartig Trust. Congress, meanwhile, received Rs 7.36 crore from electoral trusts, of which Rs 3.31 crore came from Small Donations Electoral Trust and the rest from Prudent Trust and Jan Kalyan Trust.