Despite ardent efforts, political parties are not prepared to share complete or clear information about donations they receive from different sources for reasons best known to them.
Much smaller Indian neighbors like Nepal and Bhutan have successfully placed systems to ensure that no political party is allowed to keep as much as 50 percent of their income from different sources under cover. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) found, however, that Indian political parties have been able to keep most of the sources of their income for the financial year 2016-17 under wraps.
A detailed report on this shows the way national political parties have tried to keep their finances in curtains even while submitting financial reports to Election Commission of India.
Seven national political parties of India including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) have declared getting Rs. 589.38 crores in the form of donations less than Rs. 20,000.
This sum is Rs 487.36 cr or 478% more than what they received during last financial year. The greatest gain was made by National Congress Party. It declared an increase of 793% in donations. Even left parties, gradually facing an outward political thrust in the country have recorded handsome increase in their donations. CPM has declared an increase of 190% in donations.
These astronomical figures, however, do not oblige these parties to divulge their sources of income beyond ambiguity. Election Commmission of India has got only such information from them, which can never put the parties in a spot.
It also saves the faces of political donors. The ADR/NEW report, based on an analysis of annual financial reports submitted by political parties, shows a curious case, where source states of donations amounting to a total of Rs 91.91 cr (15.59% of total donations received by the National parties during FY 2016-17) could not be attributed to any State or Union Territory due to incomplete information provided by the parties.
While such secrecy is maintained to keep ‘valuable’ political donors behind curtains, one can scarcely expect these parties to come out with finer and accountable details of their income. ADR and NEW reports on the basis of information received from Election Commission of India that seven national parties have received a total contribution of Rs 1559.17 cr for FY 2016-17.
Of this amount, Rs 710.80 cr or 45.59% came from unknown sources (income specified in the IT Returns whose sources are unknown). Nothing makes political parties shy of accepting a handsome donation. The most preferred unknown source of funding for INC was Sale of coupons under which the party collected a total of Rs 115.64 cr which formed 91.69% of the party’s total income from unknown sources.
According to ADR/NEW, most of the parties havenot provided Election Commission of India with PAN card numbers of their donors.
All India Trinamool Congress has gone a step forward, not providing cheque number, bank on which it was drawn and the date on which the cheque was received and encashed for any of its 12 donors who contributed a total of Rs 2.15 cr. It would be a time consuming process to link the donors against their donations without these details and hence trace the money trail.
CPI, too has resorted to this trick, while BJP has collected Rs 1.54 cr from 26 donations without even declaring Address and Mode of payments.
Does this indicate a possible wedding of politics and unaccountability? It possibly does! >