New Delhi: At a time when there is growing demand for transparency in political parties’ finances, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said in a report on Friday that more than 75% of the income of six national political parties from 2004-05 to 2011-12 came from unknown sources.
According to an analysis by New Delhi-based think tank, which works in the field of electoral reforms, only 8.9% (Rs.435.85 crore) of the total income came from named donors and 16.05% (Rs.785.60 crore) came from other known sources such as sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications and party levy.
The 75% of income from unknown sources amounted to Rs.3,674.50 crore, ADR said, pressing the case for the
Put together, the six political parties—the ruling Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, the Communist Party of India (CPI), and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)—had total income of Rs.4,895.96 crore from 2004-05 to 2011-12.
The analysis is based on income-tax returns and statements filed by the parties to the Election Commission.
The report comes in the backdrop of a recent order of the Central Information Commission to bring these six political parties under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The political class stood united in opposing the decision and the government introduced the controversial Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, that seeks to provide immunity to political parties from providing information under the transparency law.
Earlier this month, however, the government sent the Bill to a standing committee to get more views on it.
“Since a very large percent of the income of political parties (75.1% for national parties) cannot be traced to the original donor, full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI,” the report said.
A total of six electoral trusts contributed 2.16% of the total income of the parties during the observed years, with the exception of 2010-11, during which no donation was made by any electoral trust to any political party.
According to the analysis, the six political parties received Rs.2,545.36 crore during elections held between 2008 and 2012. These funds were received within an average of 115 days of the respective elections. ADR considered 31 elections that were held during these years for its analysis.
About 90.38% of the total funds received by the Congress party during elections in this period was through cash, as opposed to 67.18% for the BJP.
“This data in a way is showing that nearly 75% of their income is coming from shadow funding. The political parties do not formulate rules or follow them either. This is a classic case of monopoly where the rule-framing and rule-raking is being concentrated in the same hands,” Manisha Priyam, a political analyst and a fellow with the Indian Council of Social Science Research, said.
“Coming under the RTI is one of the solutions. Another is to say that they would disclose all donations below the cap of Rs.20,000 as well. The law should progress towards an idea of fairness,” she added.
Currently, political parties have to disclose information only on donations above Rs. 20,000.