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Forty-two regional parties collected Rs 676.326 crore or 77.03 per cent of their total income from voluntary contributions in 2019-20, found Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report titled 'Analysis of income and expenditure of regional political parties.' Out of these, 14 regional parties collected 50.97 per cent or Rs 447.498 crore of their income through electoral bonds, while other donations amounted to Rs 228.828 crore or 26.06 per cent for 2019-2020. These 14 parties are: TRS, TDP, YSR-C, BJD, DMK, Shiv Sena, AAP, JD(U), SP, JDS, SAD, AIADMK, RJD, and JMM All political parties must submit details of their audited reports to the Election Commission of India (ECI). ADR's report analysed the total income and expenditure of the 42 regional parties during FY 2019-20, as submitted to the ECI.

"ADR has filed a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the legitimacy of the practice of raising money through electoral bonds. Electoral bonds are secretive fundings and against the interest of democracy," said Prof Trilochan Sastry, Founder Member, ADR.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 3429.5586 crore were redeemed by political parties in 2019-20 of these, BJP, INC, AITC, and NCP received 87.29 per cent of the amount.

The most common and popular source of income for the national and regional political parties for FY 2019-20 are donations through electoral bonds. The report says that it raises questions whether political parties are aware of the donor's identity or do they know who made contributions via electoral bonds. Out of the 42 Regional Parties, JDS, SAD, JVM-P, and LJP declared receiving a total income of Rs 14.884 crore from 'sale of coupons'.

"The Income Tax Department should investigate 'sale of coupons' by parties. It is an ambiguous term parties use by selling coupons to people below Rs 20,000 without declaring where the proceeds are coming from," added Sastry.

The total income of the 42 regional parties for the FY 2019-20 was Rs 877.957 cr. TRS reported having the highest income of Rs 130.46 crore, which is 14.86 per cent of the total income of all the 42 regional parties, followed by SHS at Rs 111.403 crore and YSR-C at Rs 92.739 crore of all regional parties.

The total income of the top five parties is Rs 516.482 crore, which is 58.83 per cent of the total income of all political parties collectively.

AIADMK had the highest increase in income of Rs 61.506 crore, followed by DMK and AAP, which declared a total increase of Rs 38.557 crore and Rs 30.337 crore, respectively.

Twenty-four regional parties declared a part of their income as remaining unspent, while 18 political parties spent more than the income collected during the year. TRS has more than 83.76 per cent of its total income unspent, while AIADMK and JJP have 67.82 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively, of unspent income.

Parties spending more than their income

TDP, BJD, DMK, SP, JDS, AJSU, JVM-P, INLD, PMK, MGP, GFP, SDF, MNF, AIFB, NPF, JKPDP, IPFT, and MPC are the 18 regional parties that declared spending more than their income. BJD has declared spending the highest amount of Rs 95.78 crore or 106.01 per cent more than its income.

The total declared expenditure of the 42 regional parties was Rs 742.535 crore, and the top 3 parties spent Rs 393.35 crore or 52.97 per cent of the total amount. The top five parties that incurred the highest expenditure are BJD, which spent Rs 186.13 crore or 25.07 per cent, followed by TDP, which spent Rs 108.84 crore or 14.66 per cent, SHS spent Rs 98.379 crore or 13.25 per cent, DMK spent Rs 71.038 crore or 9.57 per cent, and SP spent Rs 55.692 crore or 7.50 per cent of the total expenditure.

Most money spent on election propaganda

The most common and popular expenditures for regional parties for FY 2019-20 are election expenses/general propaganda and administrative/general expenses.

12 out of 42 regional political parties spent more than 65 per cent of their total expenditure on election campaigns and propaganda. BJD spent the maximum of Rs 178.688 crore, followed by Shiv Sena, which spent Rs 77.58 crore on political expenditure, and TDP spent the highest at Rs 72.288 crore on election expenditure.

"It also raised the larger question on the duty of the citizens on voting for political parties that are excessively funded through electoral bonds," Sastry added.

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