The BJP and the Congress have declared a total income of ₹832.42 crore in 2015-16, of which ₹647 crore (77 per cent) is from “unknown sources.”

“Unknown sources” declared in the income-tax returns are those that account for donations below ₹20,000, and include ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’, ‘contribution from meetings/ morchas’ etc.

“The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain,” says an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), based on declarations submitted by the parties to the Election Commission (EC).

While the BJP has declared income of ₹459.56 crore as “voluntary contributions” and ₹1.2 crore as “miscellaneous income”, the Congress has declared ₹16.80 crore from “voluntary contributions”, ₹1,2 crore as “miscellaneous” and ₹167 crore from “sale of coupons”. The BJP has declared a total income of ₹570.86 crore during 2015-16, against the Congress’s ₹261.56 crore.

Of the BJP’s total declared income of ₹570.86 crore, 23.13 per cent, or ₹132.06 crore, remained unspent by the party. The Congress declared a total income of ₹261.56 crore, of which 26.11 per cent, or ₹68.30 crore, was declared unspent.

Need for transparency

Reiterating the need for greater transparency in election funding, ADR has urged the EC to impose rules that no part of Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above ₹20,000 should be left blank.

“Full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan.

“In none of these countries is it possible for 75 per cent of the source of funds to be unknown,” it said in its report.

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