Not just electoral bonds, BJP is biggest beneficiary of all political finance

The Hindutva party accounts for nearly 60% of contributions received by all political parties since 2018.
BJP’s share of political finance
BJP’s share of political finance

As more revelations tumble out about electoral bonds, the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have mounted several defences for pocketing crores of rupees from a range of companies.

For one, Amit Shah claimed the party had received only Rs 6,000 crore of Rs 20,000 crore worth of bonds. As we explained here, he got both the numbers wrong.

The BJP received Rs 8,252 crore of the total Rs 16,492 crore redeemed through bonds – just over half the value. This means one party alone received more money from bonds than over 20 others.

Supporters of the BJP have argued there is nothing wrong with the party receiving money proportional to its share in Parliament. 

This is a weak argument. For one, in countries where political parties receive state funding, their share is based on the number of votes cast in their favour – the model in Germany – or a combination of both votes and seats won in Parliament – the case of France. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won about 38% of the vote share, significantly lower than its seat share.

Two, India is a federal country with governments at both the Centre and in the states. The proportionality claim falls apart when you take that into account.

But more importantly – and this is what we want to highlight in this article – the actual share of the BJP in known political finance is actually much larger.

Anonymous electoral bonds – now discontinued after the Supreme Court held the scheme as illegal on February 15 – were only one instrument through which political parties received contributions.

Parties also accepted funds from electoral trusts, which counted large corporations as their donors.

In addition, parties received other donations through cash and bank transfers, which were declared in their annual audit reports.

We looked up the audit reports of the BJP and added up the numbers from all three sources – electoral bonds, electoral trusts, and other donations – for six years between 2018 and 2023.

The result: the BJP’s treasure chest swelled up to Rs 12,930 crore. 

More importantly, the BJP shot ahead of other parties even more decisively.

Calculating the BJP’s  share in the larger pie of declared political finance is tricky since no single data source exists for how much money has been donated to all political parties in a year. For each party, the data has to be gleaned from their annual audit reports filed to the Election Commission.

We looked through the disclosures made by 12 major political parties that account for over 85% of political representation in Parliament. They also account for over 96% of the money received through electoral bonds. Hence, it is safe to assume that most money given through electoral trusts and other donations went to these parties.

Tabulating these numbers, we found the BJP’s share of known political finance in India comes to about 58%. 

Megha Mukundan, Vaishnavi Rathore and Nidharshana Raju contributed data assistance for this report.

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, Divya Aslesha, 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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