Electoral bonds’ biggest beneficiary: BJP got 55% of all ‘audited’ funds under now ‘unconstitutional’ scheme

In comparison, the Congress was able to secure a meagre 9.37 percent (₹1,123.29) of the total amount — around a sixth of what the BJP got.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Feb 15, 2024 | 5:11 PMUpdatedFeb 16, 2024 | 12:00 AM

Electoral bonds’ biggest beneficiary: BJP got 55% of all ‘audited’ funds under now ‘unconstitutional’ scheme

In what is being considered a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Thursday, 15 February, struck down the much-touted electoral bonds scheme, stating that it was “unconstitutional.”

In the six years of the scheme, which came into existence in January 2018, a total of over ₹16,518 crore was reportedly collected by all the political parties, as per a report by the Delhi-based non-profit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), one of the petitioners in the case.

However, all the political parties together received nearly than ₹12,000 crore. To be precise, the actual number is ₹11,986.66 crore.

Explaining the existing gap of over ₹4,500 crore, ADR Programme and Research Coordinator Shelly Mahajan told South First, “The ₹16,518 crore amount is the total amount of electoral bonds that have been purchased by the donors till January this year. But, the audit reports submitted by the political parties are till the last fiscal year (FY 2022-23). Once, the audit reports for the FY 2023-24 are submitted, this gap will be covered as well.”

About the data published by the ADR on their website, she said, “The data has been compiled based on the RTIs filed by us to the State Bank of India (SBI), the regulatory authority to issue the electoral bonds. It has also been obtained by other transparency activists with whom we consulted.”

The ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) stands at the top, having received 54.77 percent (₹6,565.975 crore) of the total political donations from FY 2017-18 to FY2022-23. That’s well more than half the entire donated amount in the given period.

In comparison, the Indian National Congress (INC), the other national political party and the primary Opposition at the Centre, was able to secure a meagre 9.37 percent (₹1,123.29) of the cumulative amount — around one-sixth of what the BJP got.

Related: Supreme Court strikes down electoral bonds as ‘unconstitutional’

How much BJP got from electoral bonds

Starting in 2018, after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union government released a notification, the electoral bond was treated like a promissory note. It was a bearer instrument payable to the bearer on demand.

Unlike a promissory note, which contains the details of the payer and payee, an electoral bond had no information on the parties in the transaction at all, providing complete anonymity and confidentiality to the parties.

Over the years, the bonds faced criticism from the Opposition parties over a lack of transparency.

As for the contributions, the BJP bagged nearly ₹1,300 crore through electoral bonds in the fiscal year 2022-23. This amounted to seven times more than what the Congress got in the same period.

In the 2022-23 fiscal, the Congress received donations of ₹171 crore from electoral bonds, a drop of ₹65 crore from the 2021-22 FY, when it got ₹236 crore.

In the same FY, the BJP amassed a capital of worth ₹1775 crore — a significant share of which came from the electoral bonds, ₹1,033 crore.

This means that BJP secured ₹797 crore more than the Congress in FY 2021-22, just when the world started to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

If we take a look at all the six years of donations for the saffron party, the highest amount being received in 2019-20 FY, the BJP made:

  • ₹210 crore in 2017-18 FY
  • ₹1,450 crore in 2018-19 FY
  • ₹2,555 crore in 2019-20 in FY
  • ₹22.38 crore in 2020-21 FY
  • ₹1,033 crore 2021-22 FY, and
  • ₹ 1,294 crore in 2022-23 FY

How much Congress got from electoral bonds

On the contrary, for the Congress, the total earnings stood at ₹1,123. 29 crore, which was less than what its rival BJP earned in just one year (2022-23) let alone all six years.

Take a look at all the six-year donations of the Congress. The party received the highest contribution through electoral bonds in FY 2018-19 at ₹383.260. Over the years, the Congress got:

  • ₹5 crore in 2017-18 FY
  • ₹383.260 crore in 2018-19 FY
  • ₹317.861 crore in 2019-20 in FY
  • ₹10.075 crore in 2020-21 FY
  • ₹236.0995 crore 2021-22 FY, and
  • ₹ 171 crore in 2022-23 FY

Also read: With ₹377 crore, Hyderabad topped electoral bond sale in 28th phase

Regional parties and electoral bonds

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) stands at third spot nationally, having secured ₹1,092 crore in the six years since the electoral bond scheme was launched, as per the ADR.

In the first five years (from FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22), the AITC, which has been in power in Bengal since 2011, had an income of ₹767.888 crore, including ₹545.7 crore in 2021-22 FY.

However, this saw a drop of ₹220.7 crore in the following year, FY 2022-23, when it received ₹325 crore.

At the fourth spot is the K Chandrashekar Rao-led BRS in Telangana, with ₹912.653 crore.

The party, which received ₹383.653 crore of donations through electoral bonds in the first five fiscal years since the advent of the electoral bond scheme, made a huge leap in FY 2022-23 by earning ₹529 crore.

It should be noted that Telangana had its Assembly elections in December 2023, where the Congress defeated the BRS.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janta Dal (BJD) was at the fifth spot nationally. The BJD secured an income of ₹622 crore from FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22. In the previous FY, it bagged ₹152 crore, taking its tally to ₹774 crore.

The DMK, which is in power in Tamil Nadu, is right behind the BJD with an income amounting to ₹616.5 crore.

While in the first five years, the TN Chief Minister MK Stalin-led DMK was the recipient of ₹431.5 crore (from FY 2017-18 to 2021-22) in electoral bonds, the Dravadian party reportedly bagged ₹185 crore in FY 2022-23.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), is at the seventh spot nationally.

The party, which has to fight the Assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections, had a declared income of ₹382.44 crore, as per the ADR report.

Over the first five fiscal years since the electoral bonds were put in effect, the YSRCP secured funds worth ₹330.44 crore. In the last FY, the AP party received ₹52 crore through donations in the form of bonds.

Related: Understanding the chronology of electoral bonds scheme case

The small fish for electoral bonds

Among the other political outfits at the national level, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) earned ₹85.33 crore from FY 2017-28 to FY 2022-23. The highest was in the last FY: ₹36.5 crore.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), considered the primary Opposition in Andhra Pradesh, declared that it got a contribution of ₹112 crore through electoral bonds from FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22.

Similarly, in Maharashtra, the NCP received ₹63.50 in the aforementioned fiscal years and the Shiv Sena (SHS) declared that it secured ₹101.38 crore.

Of the other parties, the Janta Dal (United) or the JD(U) reported ₹24.4 crore earnings from electoral bonds, the Samajwadi Party (SP) reported ₹14.05 crore earnings, the Janta Dal (Secular) or the JD(S) reported ₹48.784 crore, the Shirimoni Akali Dal (SAD) ₹7.26 crore, the AIADMK ₹6.05 crore, the RJD ₹2.5 crore, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) ₹1 crore, the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) ₹50 lakh, and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) ₹55 lakh.

Meanwhile, the CPI, the CPI(M), the BSP and the National People’s Party (the ruling party in Meghalaya) informed the Election Commission that they had received no contributions through electoral bonds, as per the ADR report.