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Electoral Bonds Worth Rs 676 cr Sold Before Assembly Elections in Gujarat and HImachal

The information was revealed in an RTI reply by the State Bank of India. The RTI was filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd).

Political parties received Rs 676.26 crore "in the 23rd phase of the sale of electoral bonds (EBs) between November 11 and 15" before Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

This information was revealed in an RTI reply by the State Bank of
India. The RTI was filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd).

As per the reply, around Rs 660 crore of EBs (97.63% of the total in this phase) were encashed by different political parties at SBI's New Delhi Main branch. At the same time, EBs worth Rs 309.45 crore were sold by the Mumbai Main branch, whereas the New Delhi branch sold around Rs 222.40 worth of EBs.

The new amount takes up the total EBs collected by political parties to Rs 11,467 crore since 2018, when the scheme was launched.

Between October 1-10, anonymous donors donated Rs 545 crore in the 22nd sale of EBs, as per SBI. In the last two months, political parties received around Rs 1,221 crore; an amount of around Rs 389.50 crore was received in the previous sale in July 2022.

Furthermore, the RTI reply reveals that 666 EBs sold in the November phase were of Rs 1 crore denomination, "indicating that high net worth individuals or corporates could have shelled out the money to political parties.

The November sale of EBs was followed by a Finance Ministry decision to extend the deadline for 15 more days by amending the Electoral Bonds scheme. The 24th phase started on December 3 as the second phase of elections in Gujarat was underway.

Political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act 1951 (43 of 1951) and "have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general elections to the House of the people or the Legislative Assembly" can receive electoral bonds. The provisions of the Financial Act 2017, which allowed for
this, are under challenge in Supreme Court.

"Electoral Bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue. A debt instrument can be bought by donors from a bank, and the political party can then 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," as per The Indian Express.

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