Source: 
Daily Hunt
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q_2Nw34VkA
Date: 
04.01.2024
City: 
New Delhi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received over 70% of the total donations by electoral trusts in 2022-23, according to data shared by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The saffron party received Rs 259.08 crore out of a total of Rs 366 crore collected by five electoral trusts that submitted their annual reports to the ECI.

The highest corporate donation of Rs 87 crore came from Megha Engineering and Infrastructures. Serum Institute of India and ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel gave Rs 50.25 crore and Rs 50 crore, respectively, in political funding through these trusts.

Electoral trusts were introduced by the United Progressive Alliance-II regime in 2013 to facilitate donations to political parties by corporations and individuals. However, unlike anonymous electoral bonds, the trusts are supposed to declare their donation reports to the ECI every year.

Electoral trusts are required by rules to distribute at least 95% of their donations to political parties. In 2022-23, however, these trusts distributed 99.99% of their donations to political parties.

In 2022-23, 13 out of the 18 electoral trusts, registered with the Central Board of Direct Taxes, submitted their reports to the ECI. The reports show that only five trusts received donations from corporates.

Interestingly, out of a total of Rs 366 crore received by the five trusts from 39 corporates, over 90% contributions came from 10 business houses, an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows. Out of the total donations, Prudent Electoral Trust alone received Rs 360.46 crore, with Rs 332.26 crore coming from the top 10 corporates.

Source: ADR

In comparison, only one company contributed Rs 2 crore to Samaj Electoral Trust, two companies contributed Rs 75.50 lakh to Paribartan Electoral Trust, and two companies contributed Rs 50 lakh to Triumph Electoral Trust.

Only 11 individuals contributed to electoral trusts in 2022-23. 'Eight individuals contributed Rs 2.70 crore to Prudent Electoral Trust, three individuals contributed Rs 8 lakh to Einzigartig Electoral Trust,' the ADR report said.

The lion's share went to the BJP

Prudent Electoral Trust donated the lion's share of its contributions to the BJP (Rs 256.25 crore). It donated the rest of its donations to other political parties, such as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (Rs 90 crore), and the remaining Rs 17 crore to the Congress, YSR Congress, and Aam Aadmi Party.

Samaj donated Rs 1.50 crore to the saffron party. The Congress received only Rs 50 lakh from Samaj.

Source: ADR

Prudent Electoral Trust, earlier known as Satya Electoral Trust, has consistently received the maximum share of contributions among all the other registered electoral trusts. Among its donors are some of the biggest business conglomerates such as the DLF group, Bharti group, UPL, Torrent Power, DCM Shriram, Cadia Group, Haldia Energy, and so on. It was set up before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and operated out of Bharti group's premises in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, with the support of around 33 companies associated with the Sunil Mittal-led corporation. Later, its office was shifted to Hans Bhawan on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.

However, Bharti group has repeatedly said that Prudent is not only backed by the company but also by other corporates, such as Hero MotoCorp, National Engineering Industries, Gmmco, Jubilant FoodWorks, Orient Cement, DLF, JK Tyre, among others.

In 2018, the Printreported that most of Bharti Airtel executives hold directorial positions at the trust, with promoter companies like 'DM Buildwell, which is headed by Bharti vice-chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Bharti Realty, Bharti Realty Holdings, Bharti (SBM) Holdings, and Mehrauli Realty and Consultants, an associated company of the group'.

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