Political parties in India have 'earned' a whooping Rs 4,662 crore through donation and other sources since 2004 with the ruling Congress at the top with an income of Rs 2,008 crore followed by BJP at Rs 994 crore, two NGOs claimed today.
Relying on the IT returns and list of donors submitted to the Election Commission for the period 2004-2011, Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch released a report on the income of 23 major parties.
They said the income of parties showed a steady growth since 2004. Congress' earnings went up from Rs 222 crores in 2004 to Rs 307 crores in 2011 as is the case with BJP.
The figures complied by ADR and NEW show that Congress' income is Rs 2,008 crores, mostly through selling of 'coupons', since it began heading a government at the Centre in 2004 till 2011 though the percentage of donations is just 14.42 per cent.
On the contrary, 81.47 per cent of BJP's total income of Rs 994 crore in the past 7 years came through donations from corporate houses and trusts owned by major firms, including London-listed Vedanta, the NGO said.
The NGOs said donations and voluntary contributions seem to be one of the major sources of income for most of the political parties and demanded more transparency in functioning of electoral trusts run by corporates and that political parties must be declared as public authorities.
"It is a black box of the political parties. Basic source of corruption in this country is political funding. By regulating political funding, we cannot end corruption, but can make a major dent," Prof Jagdee Chhokar, Founder member of ADR, told a press conference here.
Interestingly, General Electoral Trust (GET) of the Aditya Birla Group and Torrent Power Limited have given donations to both Congress and BJP. While the GET gave Rs 36.4 crore as donations to Congress, it contribured Rs 26 crore to the BJP's coffers, according to the report.
While national parties like Congress and BJP got donations from corporate houses and trusts, regional outfits like the DMK have received lakhs of ruppees as donation from its own partymen.
Surprisingly, the CPI(M)'s income from 2004-2011 is Rs 417 crore, mostly contributions from individuals who have given less than Rs 20,000 each, just behind BSP's 484 crore, while other major Left party, CPI, has earned only Rs 6.7 crore. The SP's income, according to ADR, is Rs 278 crores.
ADR and NEW said these figures were collected after a protracted battle with political parties and Income Tax Department through the Right to Information Act.
Other major donators to Congress are Torrent Power Limited (Rs 14.15 crore), Bharti Electoral Trust of Airtel (Rs 11 crore), Tata's Electoral Trust (Rs 9 crore), Sterlite Industries (Rs 6 crore, ITC (Rs 5 crore), Adani Enterprises, Jindal Steel and Videocon Appliances.
Again, GET has been the major contribuor to BJP's income by donating Rs 26 crore, followed by Torrent Power Limited (Rs 13 crore), and Public and Politial Awareness Centre, which the NGos claimed belong to Vedanta, (Rs 9.5 crore).
Another interesting fact that emerged was Asianet TV holding gave Rs 10 crore to BJP and Rs 2.5 crore to Congress in the past seven years.
The NGOs also said 18 regional or state parties have never filed their contribution reports to the Election Commission since 2004. Prominent among them include National Conference of J&K, Trinamool Congress and INLD.
The income of other parties are NCP (Rs 160 crore), AIADMK (Rs 59 crore), SAD (Rs 25 crore), National Conference (Rs 21 crore), JD(U) (Rs 26 crore), TDP (53 crore), DMK (Rs 40 crore), Trinamool (Rs 9 crore), Shiv Sena (Rs 32 crore), LJP (Rs 4 crore) TRS and RLD (Rs 10 crore each), Forward Bloc (Rs 98 lakh) and Sikkim Democratic Front (Rs 92 lakh), the least among all.
While BSP has declared that it has not received any donations above Rs 20,000, the CPI said its leaders A B Bardhan and D Raja contributed Rs 65 lakh and Rs 21 lakh respectively by collecting donations from various sources.
The NGOs also alleged that some of the companies whose names have been cropped up in the mining scam have also contributed to the political parties.
It also alleged that FRCA rules have also been flouted by parties which received donations from foreign-listed companies.
During 2009-2011, the TRS has 99.98 per cent of its income coming from donations followed by JD(U) and LJP.