BJP pockets 87% of Electoral Trust donations

BJP pockets 87% of Electoral Trust donations

Electoral officials demonstrate the functioning of an Electronic Voting Machine and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail during a voter awareness program ahead of Madhya Pradesh State Assembly elections, in Jabalpur on Friday. PTI

The ruling BJP pocketed almost 87% of the Rs 193 crores donated by Electoral Trusts in the last fiscal even as the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD edged out the Congress as the second favourite for corporate donors.

An analysis of the donations by Electoral Trusts in 2017-18 by the private election watchdog 'Association for Democratic Rights' showed that Rs 193.78 crore out of Rs 194.12 crore collected were donated to five parties – BJP, BJD, Congress, NCP and National Conference.

The Electoral Trusts are non-profit companies for ensuring transparency in political funding, especially by corporates, which are not allowed to directly donate money to parties.

Donations to these trusts are tax exempted and the government had in January 2013 formulated transparency rules for such trusts formed.

However, six trusts which were formed before January 2013 are not under the ambit of these rules and the donations to parties could be much higher as they are not bound to provide details of the transactions.

According to ADR, only five of the 22 trusts that come under the transparency rules have declared that they received contributions from corporates and two individuals.

Highlighting that the transparency rules do not have a retrospective effect, the ADR analysis showed that the six trusts formed before January 2013 had donated Rs 105 crore between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

In 2014-15, one of the trusts donated Rs 131.65 crore to seven political parties.

It said, "details of donors to these six electoral trusts remain unknown thereby leading to speculation on whether donations to these trusts was only a means of getting tax exemption or a way to convert black money stashed in tax havens to white money in India."

The six trusts are General Electoral Trust, Electoral Trust, Harmony Electoral Trust, Corporate Electoral Trust, Bharti Electoral Trust and Satya Electoral Trust.

It also said currently the names of Electoral Trusts do not indicate the name of the company which set up the Trusts.

In order to have greater transparency regarding details of corporates which fund political parties, it would be ideal to include the name of the parent company in the name of the Electoral Trust, it added.