Times of India
U Sudhakar Reddy

With 153 crore income, K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi is among the top three parties in the country with highest income from unknown sources. YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress is not far behind with 60 crore income from unknown sources in 2021-22.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which analysed annual audit and contribution reports of 27 regional parties, put their total income in financial year 2021-22 at 1,165 crore. The total income of political parties from known donors is 145 crore, which is 12% of the total income of the parties, while income from unknown sources is 887 crore which is 76% of the total income of the parties.

ADR said: “MK Stalin-led DMK leads the charts by declaring the highest income of 306 crore from unknown sources. Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal has 291 crore income, while Janata Dal (United) has 48 crore income.”

Known sources are donations above 20,000 whose donor details are available through contribution reports submitted by regional parties to the Election Commission of India.

The unknown sources are income declared in the annual audit reports but without giving source of income for donations below 20,000. Such unknown sources include ‘donations via electoral bonds’, ‘sale of coupons’, ‘relief fund’, ‘miscellaneous income’, ‘voluntary contributions’ and ‘contribution from meetings’. However, details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.

Total income of political parties from other known sources such as membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, etc., is 132 crore, which amounts to 11% of the total income.

ADR said: “Since a substantial percentage of income of political parties cannot be traced to the original donor, full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the Right to Information Act. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan.”

During 2021-22, income of national parties from unknown sources in the country totalled 66% of total income, it said.

ECI had recommended that tax exemption should be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok Sabha/state assembly elections.

The commission also recommended that details of all donors who donate above 2,000 be declared in the public domain. ADR said it supports ECI for its strong stand to enforce reforms in the funding of political parties and hopes that the government proactively takes up these reforms and implements them.

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