Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained the favourite for corporate companies that reportedly donated a whooping sum of Rs 513 crore to the saffron party in 2016-17, reveals a report prepared by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Elections Watch (NEW). The report stated that the party received 53 per cent of donations through only two electoral trusts: Satya Electoral Trust and Bhadram Janhit Shalika Trust.
While Satya Electoral Trust donated Rs 251.22 crore, Bhadram Janhit Shalika Trust donated Rs 30 crore to BJP. Interestingly, Satya Electoral Trust, floated in 2013, has been the biggest donor to BJP in recent years.
Satya Electoral Trust, which has changed its name to Prudent Trust, received contributions from many conglomerates like DLF and Hero Group. The trust was registered by telecom giant Bharti Enterprises group in 2013, but it claims to be independent.
Bhadram Janhit Shalika Trust, which donated Rs 30 crore to BJP was earlier known as SIL Employees Welfare Trust. Interestingly, SIL refers to Sterlite Industries Limited, which was in news recently, after thousands of people of Tuticorin hit the streets and protested against operations of its plant in Thoothukudi (in Tamil Nadu), citing environmental violations. Similarly, a filing by Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of Vedanta, acknowledged that a company named Bhadram Janhit Shalika was one of top 10 shareholders of the Sterlite Industries (India) limited in 2012.
The report also makes it clear that the corporates have been using electoral trusts for donations to the national parties. Overall, the party witnessed an increase of 593 per cent in donations from Rs 76.85 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 532.17 crore in 2016-17. 663 individual donors donated Rs 16.82 crore to the party during FY 2016-17.
Indian National Congress (INC) remained the distant second with donations worth Rs 41.90 crore. The party was followed by Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), All India Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India.
The report further added that the parties received Rs 258.99 crore from other known sources (e.g., sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, party levy etc).
It also revealed a disturbing fact that the total income of the seven national parties from unknown sources (income specified in the IT Returns whose sources are unknown), for the FY 2016-17 is Rs 710.80 crore, which is 45.59 per cent of the total income of the parties from all over India.
BJP remained the biggest beneficiary of income from unknown sources too, as it collected Rs 464.84 crore through “voluntary contributions”. Congress earned Rs 115.64 crore through its most preferred unknown source of funding: sale of coupons.