Hyderabad-based companies were JD(S)’ top donors before 2023 Karnataka polls

TNM noted mismatches between the latest data released by the ECI and the statement submitted by the JD(S) in November 2023.
HD Kumaraswamy
HD Kumaraswamy

The Janata Dal (Secular) received a total of Rs 41 crore through electoral bonds just as Karnataka was heading to polls in May 2023, according to the data released by the Election Commission of India on March 21. The biggest of its donors were the Hyderabad-based iLabs Hyderabad Technology Centre and three companies linked to it. Rithwik Projects, a company founded by an Andhra Pradesh BJP MP, also figured among JD(S)’s top donors. 

iLabs Hyderabad Technology Centre

Investment firm iLabs and three other companies linked to it donated a total of Rs 15 crore. The three companies are KCR Enterprise LLP, Nimbha Biotech Limited, and Sigma advanced Systems Limited. They are linked to iLabs’ directors Krishna Prasad Tumuluri, Srinivas Tallapragada, and Srinivasa Raju Chintalapati.

iLabs Hyderabad Technology Centre donated Rs 5 crore to JD(S) through electoral bonds. KCR Enterprise LLP, where Srinivas Tallapragada has been a partner since at least March 2020, bought bonds worth Rs 5 crore. 

Another director of iLabs, Srinivasa Raju Chintalapati, is also on the board of Hyderabad-based Nimbha Biotech Limited which bought bonds worth Rs 2 crore. Another company called Sigma Advanced Systems Limited in which Prasad Tumuluri is a director, bought bonds worth Rs 3 crore. 

All four companies bought the bonds on April 10 and 12, 2023, just before Karnataka went to polls.

Rithwik Projects

Founded by Andhra Pradesh BJP MP Chintakunta Munuswamy Ramesh, Rithwik Projects Private Limited gave the JD(S) Rs 10 crore in April 2023. Rithwik is a construction company that bagged the contract for the construction of the Sunni dam in Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh. It also gave the Congress Rs 30 crore through electoral bonds. 

Read: Kolkata-based MKJ, MEIL biggest donors of electoral bonds to Congress

Nara Constructions

Nara Constructions donated Rs 10 crore to the JD(S) through electoral bonds. Its website lists its address in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, and its director is Kode Suryanarayana.  

Other donors

The other contributors to the JD(S) include Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL), which donated bonds worth Rs 5 crore, all bought on April 11, 2023. 

Read: JD(S)’s Electoral Bonds: MEIL, Infosys, among top donors 

Head of Bengaluru-based pharma company Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, donated Rs 1 crore in April 2023.

MEIL, missing donors, mismatch in data

The buyers of electoral bonds before April 12, 2019, are not known, as the Supreme Court asked the State Bank of India to furnish only the details of bond purchases after that date. Hence, the buyers of bonds amounting to Rs 2.5 crore, which were credited into the party’s account on April 15, 2019 are not known.

The JD(S) had received a total of Rs 89.75 crore according to a letter the party national president HD Deve Gowda wrote to the Election Commission of India on November 9, 2023. However, this letter makes no mention of the names of iLabs and its associated companies, Nara Constructions, or Rithwik Projects, or funds received from them. This is despite the fact the party received money from them during the period between April 12, 2019 and September 30, 2023 for which the SC sought donor data. 

While the JD(S) did declare in the November letter that it had received funds from MEIL, it mentioned Rs 40 crore, which was credited into its account on April 18, 2023. This donation of Rs 40 crore however, finds no mention in the latest data released on March 21. Similarly, the Rs 5 crore donation encashed on April 18, 2023 as per the latest data, is not mentioned in the November 2023 letter, raising questions about how much money the JD(S) actually received via electoral bonds, and how much money MEIL actually donated to the JD(S).

This report is part of a collaborative project involving three news organisations – Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute – and independent journalists.

Project Electoral Bond includes Aban Usmani, Anand Mangnale, Anisha Sheth, Anjana Meenakshi, Ayush Tiwari, Azeefa Fathima, Basant Kumar, Dhanya Rajendran, Jayashree Arunachalam, Joyal, M Rajshekhar, Maria Teresa Raju, Nandini Chandrashekar, Neel Madhav, Nikita Saxena, Parth MN, Pooja Prasanna, Prajwal Bhat, Prateek Goyal, Pratyush Deep, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Raman Kirpal, Ravi Nair, Sachi Hegde, Shabbir Ahmed, Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, Siddharth Mishra, Supriya Sharma, Tabassum Barnagarwala and Vaishnavi Rathore.

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