New Delhi: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has amassed over Rs 553 crore as income from unknown sources in 2017-18, which is 80 percent of total such income and four times the aggregate declared by the five other national parties.
According to a report by election watchdog the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released on Wednesday, a total of Rs 689.44 crore was declared as income from unknown sources by the national parties, of which the BJP pocketed Rs 553.38 crore. Unknown sources are income declared in the IT returns but without giving source of income for donations below Rs 20,000. Such unknown sources include donations via Electoral Bonds, sale of coupons, relief fund, miscellaneous income, voluntary contributions, contribution from meetings/morchas. The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.
“At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs 20,000 nor those who donated via Electoral Bonds. As a result, more than 50 per cent of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources. While the national political parties were brought under the RTI Act by the CIC ruling in June 2013, they have still not complied with the decision,” the ADR said in the report. As per the report, the total income of six national political parties barring the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in 2017-18 stood at Rs 1,293.05 crore.
While their total income from known donors was Rs 467.13 crore or 36 per cent of the total income, their income from other known sources (sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, party levy) was Rs 136.48 crore or 11 per cent of total income. The total income of political parties from unknown sources (income specified in the IT Returns whose sources are unknown) was Rs 689.44 crore, which is 53 per cent of the total income of the parties.
Of Rs 689.44 crore as income from unknown sources, share of income from Electoral Bonds was Rs 215 crore or 31 per cent. The BJP also got over 93 per cent of donations of above Rs 20,000 received by national political parties, during 2017-18, pocketing Rs 437.04 crore of the total Rs 469.89 crore donated by corporates and individuals. Of the total donations, the BJP got the lion’s share with 2,977 donations followed by the Congress which has declared receiving Rs 26.658 crore. In the last 14 years (2004-05 to 2017-18), the national parties have collected Rs 8,721.14 crore from unknown sources. Currently, there are seven national parties – the BJP, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist and All India Trinamool Congress.