Bihar polls: Electoral bonds worth Rs 282.29 crore sold

Electoral bonds worth Rs 282.29 crore sold before Bihar polls, all but Rs 1,000 encashed

According to the RTI, Rs 282,29,01,000 were sold by nine branches of the SBI, which is the only authorised bank to sell electoral bonds

Representative image/Credit: iStock images

Except for Rs 1,000, electoral bonds worth over Rs 282.29 crore sold last month ahead of Bihar elections were encashed by political parties.

This was disclosed on Friday by the State Bank of India in response to an RTI query filed by transparency activist Lokesh Batra.

The window for the sale of controversial electoral bonds, which has faced criticism from Opposition parties and activists on account of lack of transparency, was opened between October 18 and October 28. The three-phased Bihar polls started on October 28 and the counting of votes were held on November 10 in which Nitish Kumar-led NDA government returned to power.

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According to the RTI, Rs 282,29,01,000 were sold by nine branches of the SBI, which is the only authorised bank to sell electoral bonds. This was the 14th edition of electoral bond sale.

Of this, the Mumbai branch sold the highest amount of electoral bonds at Rs 130 crore followed by Chennai (Rs 60 crore), Kolkata (Rs 36 crore), Hyderabad (Rs 20 crore) and Bhubaneshwar (Rs 17 crore).

The Delhi branch sold electoral bonds worth Rs 11,99,01,100 while the Patna branch sold the least at Rs 80 lakh. A bond worth Rs 1,000 was bought from the Delhi branch, which was not encashed.

Of these, 279 bonds had a value of Rs one crore each, while 32 (RPT 32) were of Rs ten lakh each. Nine valued Rs one lakh each and there was one bond, which was valued at Rs 1,000.

When it came to encashment, the maximum was done in the Hyderabad branch where Rs 90 crore was redeemed followed by Chennai (Rs 80 crore) and Bhubaneswar (Rs 67 crore).

The bond valued at Rs 1,000, which was not encashed, was transferred to the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) on November 12 when the deadline for encashing it ended.

Questions have been raised over the continuation of electoral bonds, which was introduced by former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2018, over lack of transparency.

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They allege that electoral bonds are an opaque way of political funding that helped the ruling BJP. The parties do not need to disclose the donors with the Opposition alleging that the scheme favours the BJP.

According to analysis, BJP bagged most of the donations from electoral bonds at Rs Rs 1,450.89 crore followed by Congress (Rs 383.26 crore) in 2018-19. Almost two-thirds of the total donations received by seven prominent parties were from electoral bonds.