Nearly 70% of the income of the various national political parties in India is from unknown sources, revealed Association for Democratic Reforms popularly known as ADR in its recently done analysis.

An ADR analysis of the Income Tax returns and statements filed by these parties with the Election Commission of India (ECI) shows that their sources of income remain largely unknown.

Political Parties

ADR analysed the income of 6 National parties (INC, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM) and 51 Regional parties between Financial Year 2004-05 to 2014-15.

Political Parties


Total income of these parties

ADR  study reveals that between the FY 2004-05 and 2014-15, the income of these six national, as well as 51 regional parties, was a staggering Rs 11, 367.34 crores.

But almost 70% from unknown sources

Political Parties

Out of the total income of Rs 11, 367.34 crores, a lion’s share of 69% which would make it Rs 7,832.98 crores is from unknown sources.

Then how do these parties manage this game

The political parties while filling they are IT returns mention the income, but not the source of it.

At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs. 20,000. As a result, over two-thirds of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources.

Political Parties


Political parties take advantage of this loopholes and don’t bother to declare the names of the donors.

According to ADR study, the total income of political parties from known donors (details of donors as available from contribution report submitted by parties to Election Commission) is a meagre Rs 1,835.63 Crore, which constitute around 16% of the total income of the parties.

Parties take money below Rs 20,000 in these forms

The ADR study reveals that the political parties deliberately avoid taking money above Rs 20,000 as this prevents them from revealing the source of the income or donor in their IT returns.

Political Parties

Sale of coupons, Aajiwan Sahayog Nidhi, relief fund, miscellaneous income, voluntary contributions, the contribution from meetings/ morchas etc is major ways through which political parties get donation below Rs 20,000 which enables them from concealing their source of the money.

Other known sources of income

The study further reveals that the other known sources of income include the sale of moveable & immovable assets, old newspapers, membership fees, delegate fee, bank interest, the sale of publications and levy. The total income of political parties from these known sources between 2004-05 and 2014-15 was Rs 1,698.73 cr, which form a 15% of total income.

Only 16 % income from known donors

Political Parties


The ADR study further reveals that political parties have garnered Rs 1835.63 crore (only 16 % of the total income) from the known donors whose details are available on the contribution report submitted by parties to EC. 

Other major observations 

1. Of the 51 regional political parties considered for this report, 45 parties have not submitted their donations statements to the ECI for at least one financial year.

2. The 12 regional parties which have never filed their contributions report since FY 2004-05 are: J&K PDP, AJSU, NPP, RSP, MPC, KC-M, SKM, AINRC, PDA, MSCP, HSPDP and PPA.

3. The income tax returns/ audit reports of National and Regional parties were obtained by filing RTI applications with the Income Tax departments. The income tax returns of 42 out of the 51 regional parties analysed were unavailable for at least one financial year. 

4. The information was either denied by the IT departments/ the parties had not filed their returns for the financial year/ the departments were unable to trace the audit reports/ incomplete information was provided. Where possible, copies of audit reports were procured from the ECI. 

Political Parties


5. The income of National Parties from unknown sources increased by 313%, from Rs 274.13 cr during FY 2004-05 to Rs 1130.92 cr during FY 2014-15.

6. The income of Regional Parties from unknown sources increased by 652% from Rs 37.393 cr during FY 2004-05 to Rs 281.01 cr during FY 2014-15.

7. Among all the National and Regional parties considered, BSP is the only party to consistently declare receiving NIL donations above Rs 20,000 between FY 2004-05 and 2014-15 thus 100% of the party’s donations came from unknown sources. The total income of the party increased by 2057% from Rs 5.19 cr during FY 2004-05 to Rs 111.96 cr during FY 2014-15.

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