Eight parties have collected over ₹15,000 crores in small donations (below ₹20,000) from unknown contributors. In the last 17 years, the political parties have taken these donations and have not disclosed the names. Moreover, the Election Commission nor the Income Tax authorities did not conduct any investigation on it.
According to a report prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the combined income from unknown sources of Congress and NCP during this period stands at ₹4,262 crores. They are all claimed from the sale of coupons with donor names not disclosed before the EC or IT Department.
It is a cause of concern that the flow of money from unknown sources to political parties remains uninvestigated. The anonymity of sources of funds and contributors questions the legitimacy of income and expenditure of political parties. ADR report raised questions on the colour of money that funds elections in India. Furthermore, the report holds more significance ahead of Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
‘More than 36% of the funds (received by parties) cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources,” the ADR said in its report. The parties have still not complied with the decision despite being under the RTI Act 2013. “Full transparency is, unfortunately, not possible under the current laws,” it said.
Political parties collectively received ₹690 crores in cash from unidentified sources during the first year of the Covid pandemic in 2020–21. When the nation stood still because millions lost their jobs overnight, parties collected ₹325 crores from electoral bonds.
Just 74% of the $250 billion electoral bond funding for 2020–21 went to the eight national parties, including the BJP, Congress, TMC, NCP, CPM, BSP, CPI, and the National People’s Party of Meghalaya. On the other hand, 77% went to 27 regional parties. Shiv Sena, TRS, YSR-Cong, AAP, BJD, DMK, JD(S), JD(U), AGP, AIADMK, AIFB, AIMIM, AIUDF, JMM, and MNS are the most well-known of the 27 regional organisations.
Congress reported ₹179 crores in income from unidentified sources for the 2020–21 fiscal year, accounting for 42% of the national parties’ overall income from unknown sources (₹427 crores), and the BJP for Rs 101 crore.