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Is black money funding elections? Parties got 70% cash from unknown sources

Representative image. Photograph: (AFP)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 24, 2017, 10.42 AM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

Despite the lip service paid by political parties to curbing black money in the economy, all political parties continue to show that 70 per cent of the donations they receive are of amounts lower than Rs 20,000. According to the rules, it is not mandatory to furnish the source of donations below Rs 20,000.

As per Association for Democratic Reforms' (ADR) data from 2004 to 2014, all political parties put together received Rs 11,367 crores -- and 70 per cent of that money was received from unknown sources.

The income political parties got from known donors added up to about 16 per cent, or Rs 1,835 crore, of their total income, while income from other known sources including memberships added up to about 14 per cent or Rs 1,698 crore.

The most shocking part of the ADR report was that of 51 regional parties, 45 have not submitted donation statements to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for at least one financial year, while 12 regional parties have never filed a donation statement.

The NCP for example, the ADR report says, did not submit a donation report to the Election Commission between 2004-5 and 2006-7.

An Association for Democratic Reforms report says political parties got Rs 7,832.98 crore from unknown donors between 2004-05 and 2014-15. (DNA)

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Total income of national political parties between 2004 and 2014. (Image source: ADR Report) (Others)

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Sources of income of national parties between 2004 and 2014. (Image source: ADR Report) (Others)

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Total declared income of regional parties. (Image source: ADR Report) (Others)

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Regional parties with maximum declared income. (Image source: ADR Report) (Others)

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As per the ADR’s analysis, Congress received 83 per cent of funds from anonymous sources. For Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) it stood at 65 per cent and for Samajwadi Party (SP) at 94 per cent. The biggest surge was noticed in the war chest of former UP chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP). In ten years BSP’s war chest surged from Rs 5.9 crores to Rs 111.9 crores, which is a jump of 2057 per cent. BSP also remains the only political party which maintains that it has never received any political funding above 20,000 rupees.

The data accessed by ADR also shows that money from anonymous sources also surged in last 10 years. As per the data, the income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313 per cent and for the regional parties, it increased by 652 per cent. In this category, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) remains the only regional party to have the highest income from known sources which is absent in most of the other regional parties.

As per the data accessed by ADR, Samajwadi Party had the highest income at Rs 819 crores followed by DMK with Rs 203 crores and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) with Rs 165 crores.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed himself to root out black money from the electoral system. A similar position was taken during the UPA regime and the then government of the day also toyed with the idea of state funding of elections but not much happened. For now, BJP has positioned demonetisation as an anti-black money drive but political parties had the exemption to deposit unlimited money in old currency in their bank accounts.

(WION)

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