More than 77 percent of the funding received by India’s two biggest national political parties in 2015-16 was unaccounted for, according to a report published by Association of Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation working on electoral reforms.

ADR’s report focuses on income and expenditure of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress based on audit reports submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India.

The report shows “unknown sources” accounted for 80.7 percent and 71.2 percent of the BJP’s and Congress’ income in the year when political parties had the liberty to not disclose sources for cash donations below Rs 20,000.

If transparency is required for every citizen of the country, the same rule should apply for political parties.

Jagdeep Chokkar, founder member of ADR.

“Are political parties above the law of the land just because they have the authority to make laws through their representatives in Parliament,” he asked, referring to the refusal by political parties to submit themselves to public scrutiny under the Right to Information Act which would allow full access to their accounts and sources of income.

An overwhelming majority of the BJP and Congress’ funds in 2015-16 has come from voluntary contributions and sale of coupons.

Defending this number, BJP National Spokesperson Narendra Taneja said BJP, which has 11 crore members, often gets small cash donations from small towns and villages. “Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the next step is to cleanse political funding. Our party is trying to reform the system.”

This includes reduction in the level of cash donations from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000 in the Union Budget 2016-17 as well as the introduction of electoral bonds.

The Congress’ Salman Soz, however, called for “total sunlight on donations where everything is public under the Right to Information Act”, adding that it is up to the government of the day to push these changes.

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