Of the Rs 957 crore of corporate donations made to five national parties between 2012-13 and 2015-16, Rs 706 crore - or almost three-fourths - went to the BJP, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released recently.

Ironically, India's first Prime Minister from the BJP and founding president of the party, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had sought a law to ban corporate funding.

Vajpayee had moved a private member's bill in Rajya Sabha on August 17, 1962 to amend the Companies Act of 1956. The bill— called the Companies (Amendment) Bill to Curb Influence of Money Power in Politics— received support from all political parties except the Congress, which had an overwhelming majority in Parliament. The bill was rejected.

Explaining the purpose of introducing the bill, Vajpayee told the Rajya Sabha that there was a need to reduce the sway that money held in political life. He also argued that companies run on shareholders' money had no moral right to fund political parties as shareholders may not subscribe to the views of the company. The bill asserted that funds should come in the form of contributions of party members and citizens who sympathized with the cause.

Speaking at the end of a three-day debate on the issue, Vajpayee had said, "There will not be any capitalist who will give donations to Congress just because he agrees with the policies of Congress...They do not do this in order to see the flowering of a particular ideology, but to further their interests."

The speech and debate are part of a book on Vajpayee's work as an MP called 'The Constructive Parliamentarian,' edited by his close aide NM Ghatate.

ADR, a non-profit organization, has consistently demanded transparency and full disclosure in political funding. But recent changes in law allowing inflow of funds from foreign companies and introduction of electoral bonds by the NDA government have made donations to political parties more rather than less opaque, say activists.

The Rs 957 crore of corporate donations received by political parties in the four years from 2012-13 to 2015-16 was two and a half times the Rs 379 crore collected in the previous seven years between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Analysis of corporate donations between 2004-2005 to 2011-2012 by ADR shows that BJP received highest amount in corporate funding— Rs 192.47 crore— which was 85% of the total donations to the party. BJP received a total of Rs 226.46 crore in donations. Congress came in second receiving Rs 182.56 crore, of which 92% or Rs 172.25 crore was from corporates.

Data over the last 11 years shows that Congress has the highest total income of Rs 3,982.09 crore between 2004-05 and 2014-15, this is 42.92% of the total income of the 6 parties during the same time. BJP has the second highest income of Rs 3,272.63 crore while CPM declared third highest income of Rs 892.99 crore.

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