As Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh head to assembly elections in the next two months, political parties received Rs 545 crore in the 22nd sale of unidentified electoral bonds conducted between October 1 and 10.
The total amount collected by parties had gone up to Rs 10,791 crore from various anonymous donors in 22 phases since 2018, when the Electoral Bond Scheme was introduced. Political parties received EBs worth Rs 389.50 crore from donors in the previous sale in July this year. The bonds not encashed were Rs 23.59 crore and were transferred to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
According to the RTI response provided by the SBI to transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) on Saturday, the Hyderabad branch of the SBI recorded the highest sale of bonds worth Rs 117, followed by the Chennai branch at 115 crores.
Bonds were also sold in Gandhi Nagar, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, and Bengaluru. When it came to enchasing the bonds, Delhi topped the list, followed by Hyderabad and Kolkata. These bonds were also enchased from SBI branches in Chennai, Gangtok, and Bhubaneswar.
Interestingly, major political parties have yet to disclose the amount they received through Electoral Bonds. Further, as the bonds are sold through a public sector bank, the government would come to know who is funding which political party.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, on Saturday, alleged that one political party got as much as ninety-five percent of the electoral bonds issued. Electoral Bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue. Donors can buy a debt instrument from a bank, and the political party can encash them. These can be redeemed only by an eligible party by depositing the same in its designated account maintained with a bank. The bonds are issued by SBI in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore. Only 25 political parties are eligible for redemption of electoral bonds.
According to the ADR, in the case of continuance of the scheme, the principle of anonymity of the bond donor enshrined in the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 must be done away with. “All political parties which receive donations through Electoral Bonds should declare in their Contributions Reports the total amount of such donations received in the given financial year, along with the detailed particulars of the donors as against each bond; the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond.”
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