TNM-NL Investigation: 30 firms facing ED, IT probe donated Rs 335 cr to BJP

TNM-NL Investigation: 30 firms facing ED, IT probe donated Rs 335 cr to BJP

An investigation of EC records and financial statements over five years, and surveys by central agencies point to a pattern. Accusations of political funding being no less than extortion have found their way to news headlines in the past. An exclusive investigation.
  • At least 30 companies, which donated a total of nearly Rs 335 crore to the BJP between financial years 2018-19 and 2022-23, also faced action by central agencies during that period.

  • Of these firms, 23 companies, which gave a total of Rs 187.58 crore to the party during this period, had never donated any amount to the BJP between 2014 and the year of the raid. 

  • At least four of these companies donated a total of Rs 9.05 crore within four months of the central agency visit. 

  • At least six of these firms, which were already donors to the party, handed out a heftier amount in the months following the searches. 

  • Six other firms, which had donated to the BJP each year before, faced central action after they skipped donations in one financial year. 

  • At least three BJP donors, who are not part of the list of 30, had been accused of receiving undue favours from the Union government.

  • Only three of these 32 companies donated to the Congress during the same period.

These are some of the findings of The News Minute and Newslaundry’s analysis of Election Commission records, case files, and financial statements between the financial years 2018-19 and 2022-23. In some cases, donations were made during or after raids were conducted on the company and in some others, the companies that donated the money received licences or clearances. However, in some cases, the agency action continued despite the donations.

So, who were the 30 companies who donated to the BJP directly between 2018-19 and 2022-23? Where were they based? What were they accused of? We tell you in this story.

The episodes mentioned in this report only point to a pattern between raids or surveys by central agencies and donations to the BJP. Accusations of political funding being no less than extortion have found their way to news headlines in the past.

It’s significant considering there is a surge in action by central agencies such as the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, and the Income Tax (I-T) Department against opposition leaders and their supporters. There are already concerns that the electoral bonds scheme, announced in 2018 by the Narendra Modi government, brought in an opaque system. The Supreme Court, which struck down the electoral bonds scheme on February 15, also warned that it could have led to quid pro quo arrangements.

But it’s not just political donations and electoral bonds – the BJP has received the highest amounts through electoral trusts too. The BJP cornered over 70% of the total donations by electoral trusts in 2022-23, according to data shared by the Election Commission.

Notably, The News Minute and Newslaundry made several attempts to contact each of these companies via telephone and email. In cases where we couldn’t establish the status of the central agency action against them, we asked the companies about the status of the cases and sent questionnaires to the respective agencies. Their comments will be added to this report if they respond. 

Som Distilleries

The Madhya Pradesh-based liquor group was among the quickest to donate to the BJP after a raid. Owned by brothers JK Arora and AK Arora, the group donated Rs 4.25 crore to the BJP in 2018-2019 but didn’t contribute any amount in the next financial year. 

In July 2020, GST intelligence officers arrested the Aroras and accused them of tax evasion to the tune of Rs 8 crore in the sale and supply of alcohol-based hand sanitisers. They were granted bail in August by the Jabalpur High Court after their bail plea was rejected twice – first by the magistrate’s court and then by the sessions court in Bhopal. 

Ten days after their release, Som Distilleries donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP, with another Rs 1 crore paid in two instalments in October and December in the same financial year.

In 2021-22, the firm donated Rs 2 crore to the party in May 2021. But five months later, the Competition Commission of India raided the group’s premises and accused it of misappropriation in price fixing. In 2022-23, the company donated another Rs 1 crore to the BJP in June 2022. But in November last year, their premises were again searched by the I-T Department amid the Assembly elections in the state. The case against them is pending investigation. Som Distilleries gave Rs 1 crore to the Congress in 2019-2020.

SNJ Distilleries

SNJ Distilleries, a company owned by SN Jayamurugan who was a close aide of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, was raided by tax officials in August 2019. Four months later, it donated Rs 1.05 crore to the BJP.

In the next financial year, it contributed Rs 6 crore to the BJP in March 2021. It was searched by tax sleuths in April 2021, just before the Tamil Nadu elections. In 2022-23, SNJ gave Rs 5 crore to the Prudent Electoral Trust. The Prudent Trust donates majority of its money to the BJP.

IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd

The Mumbai-based company, a leading player in infrastructure led by Virendra Mhaiskar, has increasingly donated to the BJP over the last decade, beginning with Rs 2.3 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 14 crore in 2014-15. The drastic jump in the donation took place in the same financial year when the CBI searched the company’s premises in Pune and Mumbai over a complaint of land grab and cheating by deceased RTI activist Satish Shetty. However, TNM-NL could not ascertain whether the CBI action came before the donation.

The company was first searched by the agency in 2012 over Shetty’s murder. And its donations have only increased over the years. From 2014 to 2023, IRB and its two subsidiary companies, Modern Road Makers and Ideal Road Builders, donated Rs 84 crore to the BJP.

A CAG report last year flagged irregularities in the NHAI contract awarded to the company for the Hapur-Moradabad highway project at a 68% lower premium. Modern Road Makers gave Rs 5 crore in 2014-15 to the Congress party.

Astral Ltd

The Ahmedabad-based Astral Limited is a pipe manufacturing company owned by Sandeep Engineer. Its premises were searched on November 24, 2021. Two months later, it donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP.

Shree Cements

The Kolkata-based firm is India’s third-largest cement producer and is led by Hari Mohan Bangur.

The company gave Rs 12 crore to the BJP in 2020-21 and 2021-22 but did not contribute any amount in 2022-23. It was searched by tax sleuths in June last year in a raid termed as a vendetta by the opposition even as the I-T Department accused the company of a Rs 23,000 crore tax evasion. A month later, on July 11, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs also issued an inspection order against Shree Cements over tax filings, transactions, etc.

The opposition’s allegations got a shot in the arm as the company exited from the race to acquire Sanghi Industries weeks after the tax raid – the company was taken over by the Adani-owned Ambuja Cement. The Congress had then accused the BJP of arm-twisting corporate rivals of the Adani Group.

In January this year, the I-T Department demanded Rs 4,000 crore tax payment from Shree Cements.

USV Pvt Ltd

The Mumbai-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, which deals in products ranging from active pharmaceutical ingredients to peptides and injectables, was started by freedom fighter, social reformer and businessman Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi. It is now led by his granddaughter Leena Gandhi Tewari, seen as the second richest woman in the country and a philanthropist for social causes.

Twenty premises linked to USV Pvt Ltd were raided by the I-T Department in September 2017. The firm was accused of paying commissions to doctors to prescribe its products. Within a month of the raid, the company donated Rs 9 crore to the BJP – on October 17.

Christy Friedgram

The Namakkal-based food processing company used to supply food items for mid-day meals in schools across Tamil Nadu. The company had paid Rs 1 crore to BJP in 2017-18.

Its premises were searched in July 2018, and tax authorities claimed to have seized undisclosed income of over Rs 1,300 crore and accused the company of giving Rs 2,400 crore to politicians and bureaucrats in kickbacks. 

In 2020, the company moved a petition claiming that it wanted to cut a deal with the I-T Department, but this petition was dismissed by the Madras High Court. In the same financial year, 2020-21, the company gave Rs 1.96 crore to the BJP, subsequently giving a total of Rs 3.82 crore to the party in 2021-22 and 2022-23

Arguments in the case have closed, but the court is yet to pronounce its judgement.

Yashoda Hospitals

The Hyderabad-based group consists of a chain of hospitals, including four hospitals, four heart institutes and four cancer institutes. It was launched in the eighties by the Rao brothers, Ravender, Surender and Devender. The family is related to Telangana’s former Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR).

The group, which has been accused of being favoured by the erstwhile KCR government in Telangana, donated Rs 2.5 lakh to the BJP in 2019-20. In December 2020, several of its premises were searched across Telangana, and the very next year, the group donated to the BJP – Rs 10 crore in 2021-22 and Rs 5 lakh in 2022-23.

Hetero Pharma

The Hyderabad-based company is among the leading pharmaceutical Indian firms and is run by BRS Rajya Sabha member and the richest MP, B Partha Saradi Reddy – he declared assets worth Rs 5,300 crore in 2022. 

The group donated Rs 25 lakh to the BJP in 2019-20 through Hetero Drugs. Hetero Labs gave Rs 50 lakh in 2014 and Rs 2 lakh in 2017. The group, through two donations, gave Rs 1 crore in 2020-21, and after a tax raid in October 2021, it routed higher amounts through the Prudent trust – Rs 5 crore in February 2022 and Rs 5.25 crore in 2022-23. Meanwhile, Rs 4.2 crore donation was made through their company, Hetero Labs, in 2022-23.  

Tax authorities claimed to have detected Rs 550 crore of undisclosed income and had seized more than Rs 142 crore in cash.

Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd

The leading lottery service in India, the company is estimated to have a turnover of Rs 7,000 crore and is headed by self-proclaimed lottery king and controversial businessman Santiago Martin. In May 2019, the I-T Department searched 70 locations linked to the company, and in the next financial year, the company became the biggest donor to Prudent Electoral Trust – with an amount of Rs 100 crore in March 2021. Prudent gave 84% of its total Rs 245 crore to the BJP that year. In 2022-23, Future Gaming donated Rs 5 crore directly to the BJP. 

Martin, who backs politicians of all hues, has earlier been booked in a lottery scandal case in Karnataka in 2007, in 30 CBI cases for cheating the Sikkim government of Rs 4,500 crore in 2011, and under the Goondas Act in Coimbatore in 2011. Despite the controversies, his son Charles Joseph Martin was inducted into the BJP by the party’s senior leader, Ram Madhav, in 2015.

KALS Distilleries, and a proprietorship

Owned by S Vasudevan, it is one of the leading liquor companies in Tamil Nadu and among the major suppliers of cheap liquor to the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation. 

The company was raided in August 2019 by the I-T Department, which claimed to have unearthed suppressed taxable income worth Rs 300 crore. In the next year, the company donated Rs 5 crore to the BJP and contributed Rs 3 crore in 2021-22 too. 

Renganayaki Agency, a proprietorship associated with KALS Distilleries based out of Karaikal in Puducherry, paid Rs 2 crore to the BJP in two transactions in 2021-22. It dropped to Rs 2 lakh in 2022-23.

A top official of the company told TNM that they do donate to political parties and they were under no pressure. “We donate to all based on their needs and situation. Money is given out of our own interest.” However, we could not find donations made by the company to other parties.

Chiripal Industries Ltd

Among Asia’s largest denim manufacturers, the Ahmedabad-based firm is owned by Vedprakash Chiripal, who also runs businesses in the packaging and education sectors. 

The group gave Rs 2.25 crore to the BJP in 2019-20 but nil in the next two years. After tax sleuths searched its premises in Ahmedabad in July 2022 and claimed to have recovered unaccounted cash worth Rs 10 crore, the company donated Rs 2.61 crore to the BJP in 2022-23.

Lalithaa Jewellery

The Chennai-based firm, owned by M Kiran Kumar, donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP in 2021-22. This came months after the tax authorities searched premises linked to the jewellery chain in March 2021 and accused it of amassing undisclosed income worth hundreds of crores.

Aurobindo Realty and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd

Started by PV Ramprasad Reddy in 1986, it’s the real estate arm of Hyderabad-based pharma giant Aurobindo Pharma. 

In 2020-21, the company donated Rs 9 crore to the BJP but did not contribute any amount in the next year. In November 2022, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Sharat Chandra Reddy Penaka, director of Aurobindo Pharma, over his alleged role in the Delhi liquor policy case. Reddy was accused of processing kickbacks in the liquor licensing process. Mahira Ventures Pvt Ltd, which was rechristened as Aurobindo Pharma’s real estate arm Auro Infra Pvt Ltd, donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP in 2021-22. Sharat is a director at Mahira/Auro Infra Pvt Ltd too.

Sintex Industries Ltd

The Ahmedabad-based firm, which deals in textiles and is owned by Amit Patel and Rahul Patel, was searched in December 2017 by the Enforcement Directorate, which seized assets worth Rs 48 crore. The Patels also featured in the Panama Paper leaks.

In 2019-20, the company donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP.

Haldiram Snacks Pvt Ltd

The prominent food chain, owned by Prabhu Shankar Agrawal, was searched by tax sleuths in December 2018 over allegations that it was involved in tax evasion to the tune of Rs 150 crore. The company donated Rs 31.11 lakh to the BJP in 2019-20 and Rs 25 lakh in 2020-21.

SPML Om Metals

Om Infra Ltd, formerly known as Om Metals Infra Projects Ltd, deals in hydro-mechanical equipment and is owned by the Om Kothari group, which has business interests in the real estate, entertainment, automobiles and hospitality sectors.

The group was awarded a Rs 615 crore contract to construct a dam across Rajasthan’s Banas river in 2018. But in July 2020, several locations linked to the Delhi headquartered company were searched by tax officials, who alleged irregularities in transactions linked to the dam contract. The company’s owners were considered close to then Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the Congress party had termed the move as a vendetta.

In 2021-22, the company donated Rs 5 crore to the BJP.

Mahalaxmi Group

Owned by Naveen Singhal, the Assam-based company has often been accused of irregularities. After the CBI raids in 2011, the company and Naveen Singhal were accused of selling allotted coal in the open market in a chargesheet filed in 2012. A second charge sheet in 2016 accused them of irregularities in coal procurement in Assam’s Hailakandi. The cases are pending trial.

In December 2020, premises linked to Singhal were searched by I-T officials over a coal scam case investigation.

The group donated Rs 2.85 crore to the BJP in 2020-21, Rs 7.45 crore in 2021-22, and Rs 1.49 crore in 2022-23. And last year, the group was awarded the biggest coal mine project in Arunachal Pradesh even after the CBI named them in two cases of alleged coal-related irregularities.

Pacific Exports

A subsidiary of the Udaipur-based quarry company Pacific Industries Ltd, Pacific Exports operates mines in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur. Its promoters, BR Agrawal and JP Agrawal, operate education institutes under the banner of Pacific Group of Institutions and Geetanjali University, including Geetanjali Medical College and Hospital, Geetanjali Institute of Technical Studies, etc. 

In 2013, the CBI’s anti-corruption branch in Jabalpur booked the company’s staff for allegedly carrying out unlawful mining in connivance with senior officials of the Indian Bureau of Mines. In August 2015, institutes belonging to the Pacific Group were raided in Udaipur for alleged tax irregularities. They were searched again in 2019 for allegedly defaulting tax money.

In 2021-22, two Pacific subsidiaries, including Pacific Exports and Pacific Iron Manufacturing Ltd, together gave a sum of Rs 12 crore to the BJP. In the last month of the same financial year, the Pacific Institute of Medical Sciences, headed by BR Agrawal’s son, Rahul Agrawal, was raided by the CBI in March 2022 for alleged irregularities in admissions and finances. 

In 2022-23, Pacific Exports donated Rs 6 crore to BJP and just two months before the end of the financial year, the Geetanjali Medical College and Hospital was raided for alleged irregularities in admission fees in February last year.

Meghalaya Cements Ltd

Headed by Assam-based business tycoon and head of Lohia group Kailash Chandra Lohia, the company’s main cement plant is located at Thangskai village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district. 

In 2018-19, Meghalaya Cements gave Rs 1.38 crore to the BJP. Along with two other companies, Star Cements and Amrit Cements, a collective amount of Rs 4.27 crore was given to the BJP in the same year. All three companies have licences for mining limestone and cement manufacturing units in Meghalaya. 

Meghalaya Cements gave Rs 1.5 crore to the BJP in 2019-20, and Rs 50 lakh in 2020-21. In November 2021, tax officials searched Lohia’s house and offices in Guwahati, and in the same financial year, 2021-22, Meghalaya Cements donated Rs 1.5 crore to BJP – it gave Rs 10 lakh to the party in the next financial year

Meghalaya Cements have donated Rs 50 lakh to Congress between 2019 and 2021.

ILABS Technologies Private Limited

ILabs is a Hyderabad-based investment platform, founded in 2000. The directors of Ilabs Hyderabad Technology Centre Private Limited are Srinivasaraju Chintalapati, Krishna Prasad Tumuluri, Srinivas Tallapragada and Duddukuri Venkata Dhanumjaya Rao. 

In May 2019, Ravi Prakash, the former CEO of the TV9 news channel, in his resignation letter to the channel, accused the board of directors of violating the orders of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) restraining the company from alienating its shares or assets in collusion with the earlier promoter Srinivasa Raju, one of the directors of ILabs, who was also one of the founders of TV9 group in 2004. 

That same month, iLabs donated Rs 5 crore to the BJP. 

Micro Labs 

Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical company Micro Labs is run by brothers Dilip and Anand Surana. Micro Labs donated Rs 21 lakh to BJP in 2015-16. In 2017-18, the amount increased by almost 43 times and they donated Rs 9 crore. It donated Rs 3 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 50 lakh in 2019-20.

During COVID-19 from 2020 to 2022, Micro Labs, which manufactures Dolo-650, was reported to have sold 350 crore Dolo tablets and earned revenue worth Rs 400 crore.

In 2020-21 and 2021-22, it didn't make any donation to BJP. In July 2022, Micro Labs was raided by I-T sleuths at over 40 company locations. The company was accused of Rs 300 crore tax evasion. It was also accused of offering freebies worth Rs 1,000 crore to doctors to prescribe the brand.

In the same year, Micro Labs, which had not donated to BJP for the last two years, donated Rs 2 crore. In September 2022, Micro Labs was cleared of all charges by the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA). 

Salarpuria Sattva

Salarpuria Sattva Group is a company owned by Bijay Agrawal. It is one of the major property development, management and consulting groups based out of Bengaluru.

Various companies owned by the SS group have donated money to the BJP over the past few years. In 2018, ED registered a case against the Heera Group and within a while, started looking into the role of the SS group in an investment racket. In 2020-21, SPPL Developers gave Rs 60 lakh and SS Developers Salarpuria Windsor paid Rs 3 crore to the BJP. Both are subsidiary companies of the SS Group. In 2021-22, Satern Griha Nirman Pvt Ltd, another subsidiary company of SS group, donated Rs 4 crore. In the same financial year, RLM Infra Promoters, a company partnered by Bijay Agrawal donated Rs 50 lakh to BJP.

In November 2022, Salarpuria Sattva group was raided and the ED froze assets in the form of bank balances of Rs 49.99 crore in 316 bank accounts. In the same financial year, SS developers donated Rs 4 crore and Satern Griha Nirman Pvt Ltd donated Rs 1.25 crore to the BJP.

Ramco Group

The Ramco Group is a major cement manufacturing group based out of Tamil Nadu and has often had run-ins with the central agencies. The group was founded by PAC Ramasamy Raja in the early 1960s. The present managing director of the company is PR Venketrama Raja.

In 2015, Ramco Cements was accused in a railway freight scam by the CBI.  

In 2020, the shares of various cement companies, including Ramco’s, fell by 2 to 5 % after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) conducted raids on the companies over allegations regarding price cartelisation.

The company was raided in December 2020 and three months later, on March 16, 2021, i.e. in the financial year 2020-21, Ramco donated Rs 2 crore to BJP. In 2022-23, it again donated Rs 50 lakh to the BJP.

KPC Projects Ltd

KPC is an Andhra-based construction company and K Anil Kumar is the chairman of KPC Projects. The company is known for undertaking major projects such as T-works phase-1, T-Hub Phase II building in Gachibowli, BR Ambedkar statues in Hyderabad, District Collector office in Kothagudem, National Highways in Suryapet, Martyrs Memorial at Hyderabad and so on. 

In December 2021, the current Telangana Chief Minister and the then Congress leader Revanth Reddy demanded a high-level inquiry into how the KPC project had given kickbacks to authorities and inflated the expenses for the Martyrs Memorial project.   

In that same financial year 2021-22, KPC projects donated an amount of Rs 1 crore to the BJP. In the financial year 2022-23, it again donated to BJP. The donation amount was reduced to Rs 5 lakh. In December 2023, the company was raided by tax sleuths. 

Brigade Enterprises Ltd 

Brigade Enterprises is a real estate and property development company owned by the Brigade group, based out of Bengaluru. The group has had multiple run-ins with central agencies over the years. The company was founded by MR Jaishankar, who is also the present chairman and managing director of the group.

In November 2017, the I-T department carried out raids and surveys at 34 premises of the Brigade group in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mysuru suspecting high-volume transactions after demonetisation in 2016. The group also faced allegations of tax evasion. 

The Brigade group donated Rs 1.6 crore to the BJP in 2018 and Rs 2 crore in 2019.

BGR Mining Infra

The Hyderabad-based company was founded by BG Reddy. The company’s director Rohit Bathina and his associate Prabhat Kumar were booked by the CBI in 2017 for allegedly arranging bribes through hawala channels for a senior NTPC official. 

In July 2019, the NTPC, referring to the CBI case, terminated the mining contract granted to BGR in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Five months after the termination of the mining contract, BGR donated Rs 5 crore to the BJP on October 31, 2019. 

In February last year, the NTPC awarded its highest-value mine developer and operator contract, worth around Rs 20,400 crore, for the Kerandari project in Jharkhand to the company.

Chennai Green Woods Pvt Ltd

Chennai Green Woods Pvt Ltd is a construction company owned by the Ramky Group, whose chairman is YSRCP Rajya Sabha MP Ayodhya Rami Reddy. The I-T Department raided various offices of the Ramky Group on July 6, 2021, in Hyderabad. The tax authorities were verifying claims of losses shown by the group companies of Ramky. There are reportedly hundreds of transactions between the companies belonging to the group linked to the MP’s family. Ramky group was also accused in a disproportionate assets case of Andhra CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. 

In 2022-23, Chennai Green Woods Pvt Ltd donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP.

MGM Group

The Chennai-headquartered MGM Group of Companies, founded by Manuel Gnana Muthu, owns companies in various sectors, including distilleries, hospitality, entertainment, and logistics. Various agencies investigated them for years and the present chairman MGM Maran was accused by the ED of removing his wealth outside India and getting Cyprus citizenship in 2016. In December 2021, the Enforcement Directorate seized assets worth Rs 293.91 crore from MGM Maran.

In November 2023, the ED had taken possession of 100% shares of MGM Maran and MGM Anand in the four companies of the group under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. One of the four companies was Southern Agrifurane, a liquor manufacturing unit.

In April 2021, the MGM Group of companies donated Rs 1 crore to the BJP, while Southern Agrifurane donated Rs 40 lakh to the BJP during 2021-22

Visaka Industries 

Visaka Industries is owned by former Congress leader G Vivek Venkataswamy, who joined the BJP in August 2019. On November 1, 2023, he resigned from BJP and a few days later, he was raided by the ED. The raids were over allegations that his team was transporting money from Hyderabad to Chennur ahead of the Telangana Assembly elections.

During the time that Vivek was part of the BJP, the Visaka group donated Rs 3.005 crore to the party during the 2020-21 period and Rs 3 crore during the 2021-22 period. 

Undue favours to donors?

A few other companies, meanwhile, have been accused of receiving undue favours from the government and have also donated to the BJP. SN Pavei in Manipur’s Senapati district and Agrocel Industries Pvt Ltd from Gujarat are among such examples.

SN Pavei was banned for five years beginning in 2016 by the National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation, for submitting a fake bank guarantee for a road construction contract. But in 2019, it was awarded eight contracts under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. In 2021-22, it donated Rs 3.47 crore to the BJP.

On the other hand, the agrochemical manufacturer Agrocel Industries Pvt Ltd, which has a registered office in Kutch in Gujarat, besides corporate offices in Mumbai, Gurgaon and Noida, and is owned by businessman Dipesh Shroff, has been donating to the BJP regularly since 2019. In 2019-20, it donated Rs 95 lakh. In 2020-21, it donated Rs 5 lakh. In 2021-22, it donated Rs 3 crore, and in 2022-23, it donated Rs 1.72 crore to the BJP. 

The same company was accused by a Comptroller Auditor General report in 2014 of receiving undue favours in the allotment of 18,000 acres of land in Kutch. “The decision of the department to allot the land to by mutual understanding among the applicants and without inviting competitive bid was contradictory to the government resolution of May 2006,” read the report.

During the financial year 2020-21, Assam-based Ghanshyam Pharmaceuticals, owned by Guwahati-based Ghanshyam Dhanuka, donated Rs 75 lakh to the BJP and Rs 1.25 crore in the next year. The catch here is that, during the COVID-19 period in 2020, the BJP-led government in Assam was accused of handing over medical supply orders to certain companies having connections with the then health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his family members. One of those companies is Ghanshyam Pharmaceuticals. It is worth noting that Himanta Biswa Sarma’s son is a major stakeholder in Vasistha Realtors, where Ghanshyam Dhanuka’s father, Ashok Dhanuka is a full-time director. 

There are other companies, such as Hindalco Industries Ltd and Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd, which have donated to the BJP but only several years after they had faced central action. They are not part of the list of 30 companies the report has dealt with earlier.

Hindalco Industries Ltd

The Aditya Birla Group’s metal flagship firm was searched in 2013 by the CBI over a corruption case pertaining to the allocation of coal blocks in Odisha in 2005. The CBI, which recovered cash to the tune of Rs 25 crore, had filed a case against group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary PC Parekh. But in 2014, it filed a closure report giving a clean chit to the two. The case is still pending in court.

In 2017-18, Aditya Birla Group used the AB electoral trust, also owned by the AB Group, to donate Rs 21.8 crore to political parties. Of the total amount, Rs 13.5 crore went to BJP, Rs 1 crore to Congress and Rs 8 crore to Biju Janata Dal. The money was donated on behalf of the group’s subsidiary companies – Hindalco donated Rs 6.75 crore.

In 2018-19, the group’s subsidiaries used the trust to donate Rs 57.25 crore to political parties – Hindalco paid Rs 13.5 crore. Of the Rs 57.25 crore, Rs 28 crore went to the BJP, Rs 27 crore to the BJD, Rs 2 crore to Congress and Rs 25 lakh to Janta Dal (Secular).

In 2019-20, the group’s subsidiaries used the trust to hand out Rs 10 crore – Hindalco donated Rs 9.5 crore. The BJP got Rs 9 crore, while the JMM received Rs 1 crore. In 2021-22, the group gave Rs 10 crore to the BJP, with the whole sum being paid by Hindalco.

From 2017 to 2022, the group’s subsidiaries donated Rs 60.5 crore to the BJP.

Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd

Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd is a subsidiary of the Wadhawan Group, which primarily deals in financial services. Its 30-year-old flagship company, Dewan Housing Financial Ltd, was accused of syphoning over Rs 31,000 crore of public money by Cobrapost in 2019, facilitating the purchase of three Mumbai-based properties of underworld figure Iqbal Mirchi in 2010, and allegedly routing over Rs 2,000 crore between 2010 and 2019 to the gangster who used it to finance terror.

The ED also attached assets worth Rs 578 crore belonging to Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd in 2021 over the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation fraud case.

The group has donated around Rs 29.5 crore to the BJP from 2014 to 2019. Ten months after it featured in the Cobrapost investigation, Wadhawan Global Capital Ltd donated Rs 10 crore to the BJP which was accepted by the party.

There are other examples which draw suspicion. 

Consider the case of Barik Enterprises India Pvt Ltd. This company was listed as a recycling and waste management company and started in April 2020. It gave Rs 2.79 crore in 10 tranches in 2021-22 though its authorised share capital is Rs 1 lakh. The company’s owners were listed as Bikash Kumar Parik and Pravas Martha. By March 2023, this company was listed as ‘strike off’ by the Registrar of Companies. A visit to its listed address in Chennai showed there was no office or signboard there.

TNM-NL was not able to ascertain the latest status of the investigations and cases against all the companies mentioned in this report. We reached out to the I-T Department, ED and CBI, but are yet to receive a response. This report will be updated if a response is received.

We sent a questionnaire to BJP national treasurer Rajesh Agarwal by email. This report will be updated if a response is received.

The TNM-NL team also repeatedly tried to reach out to all the companies mentioned in this report. Emails have been sent to all these companies, and this report will be updated if a response is received.

The News Minute