OutFable Editorial Desk
New Delhi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received the highest contribution of Rs 351.50 crore from Electoral Trusts (ETs) in the financial year 2021-22. This is 72.17 percent of the total contribution received by all parties. This has been clarified in a detailed report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). In the 2020-21 financial year, the highest contribution (Rs. 336.50 crore) to BJP was Rs.209 crore. AB General IT and Samaj IT contributed Rs 10 crore and Rs 5 crore respectively to the BJP in the financial year 2021-22. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) received Rs 40 crore, the second largest amount after the BJP, with Prudential ET the sole contributor. Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) received a total of Rs 18.43 crore and Rs 21.12 crore respectively from ET.

If there is a difference of 0.19 crore in the contributions made by Prudent ET to the two parties, Independent ET 4.81 crore was donated to AAP, making AAP a bigger recipient than Congress. The small donation ET gave to Congress was just Rs 1.9351 crore. Also, Prudent ET donated to nine political parties including TRS, Samajwadi Party, YSR Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal, Punjab Lok Congress Party and Goa Forward Party.

The six ETs that declared donations from various corporate bodies and individuals received a total of Rs 487.0856 crore and disbursed Rs 487.0551 crore (99.994 per cent) to various political parties during the financial year 2021-22. However, the details of the donors of these six ETs are unknown, giving rise to speculation whether the contributions to these trusts are a way to get tax breaks or a way to convert black money into white money stashed in India’s tax havens. According to the ADR, the details of contributors to these ETs formed before the coming into force of the Central Board of Direct Taxes rules should also be disclosed.

During FY 21-22, 89 corporate/business houses contributed Rs 475.8021 crore to ET, of which 62 contributed Rs 456.30 crore to Prudent ET. Two people contributed Rs 10 crore to AB General IT, three people contributed Rs 5 crore to Samaj IT and 15 people contributed Rs 2.20 crore to Independent IT. More than 40 individuals have contributed to ET in FY 2021-22. Discretionary ET has the highest contribution compared to Independent ET and Small Donation ET. The top 10 donors contributed 67.96 per cent of the total donations received by the trusts in the financial year 2021-22 with an ET of Rs 331 crore.

ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India Ltd contributed Rs 70 crore, the highest among all donors, to ET, while ArcelorMittal Design & Engineering Center Pvt Ltd contributed Rs 60 crore and Bharti Airtel Ltd Rs 51 crore to various trusts. Further, the ADR found that 10 out of 16 ETs (62.50 per cent) have submitted their annual reports for the financial year 2021-22. This calls into question the continuation of registration of such electoral trusts which fail to fulfill their primary objective of disbursing the donations they receive to their respective political parties.

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