MUMBAI – A Right to Information query by Cogencis has revealed that over 80% of the electoral bonds sold were from January to May, ahead of the marathon General Elections that were held from Apr 11 to May 19.

Responding to the query, State Bank of India, the only bank allowed to sell the electoral bonds, said it had sold 3,679 electoral bonds in Jan-Mar. The sales picked up pace just ahead of the elections, as is evident from the 5,868 electoral bonds sold in this financial year till May 15.

The Electoral Bonds Have Drawn Criticism From Various Political Parties and Economists due To Their Anonymous Nature

Since they were introduced in January last year, the bank has sold 11,681 electoral bonds, totalling over 58 bln rupees.

The government introduced the electoral bonds, and simultaneously restricted cash donations made to a political party to 2,000 rupees per person, in a bid to cleanse political funding.

Electoral bonds are similar to a bank note that is payable to the bearer on demand, free of interest. They are sold through specified SBI branches, in tranches. The last tranche ended on May 15, and the next one will open from Monday till Jul 10.

The bonds enabled people to make anonymous donations to political parties through banking channels. Earlier, donors paid in cash and were reluctant to use banks due to fear of being identified.

The bonds, sold in multiples of 1,000 rupees, 10,000 rupees, 100,000 rupees, 1 mln rupees, and 10 mln rupees, are valid for 15 days from the date of issue.

These bonds can only be used to make donations to political parties, which have secured at least 1% of the votes polled in the previous General Elections or state Assembly Elections.

Interestingly, fewer donors opted for bonds with lower denomination--only 47 of the 1,000-rupee denominated bonds were sold, and 60 of the 10,000-rupee ones.

Demand for bonds with higher denomination was far more. Electoral bonds of 100,000 rupees, 1 mln rupees and 10 mln rupees were sold 1,525, 4,681 and 5,368 times, respectively.

In geographical terms, the most electoral bonds sold by value were in Mumbai at over 17.82 bln rupees, followed by Kolkata at over 13.89 bln rupees.

However, the bonds have drawn criticism from various political parties and economists due to their anonymous nature. The Congress party, in its manifesto for the General Elections, had vowed to scrap electoral bonds if it came to power.

The Election Commission of India had also opposed the electoral bond scheme saying that though the bonds as an instrument of donation were viable, it was concerned by their anonymous nature.

According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms in December, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was the biggest beneficiary of the electoral bond scheme as 94.5% of all bonds worth over 2 bln rupees, issued till March 2018, went to the party.

Following is the city-wise data of the number of electoral bonds sold till date and their total value:

City    Total number of electoral bonds soldTotal amount of electoral bonds sold (in bln rupees)
Bhubaneshwar734            3.15 
Chennai 4731.84
New Delhi15428.74









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