The Times of India

BHOPAL: Political parties in India have accepted funds from companies with foreign base including Dow Chemicals and this is in contravention to the Foreign Contribution Act (FCRA), claims National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

More than 75% of their donations are from undisclosed sources, they added.

Releasing a report titled 'analysis of income, expenditure and donations of MP's major political parties' here on Friday, founder member of NEW and ADR Prof Jagdeep Chhokar told the reporters, "There is a large pool of undisclosed donations received by the political parties including Congress and BJP as they stem from sale of coupons and are less than the Rs 20,000 bracket so they needn't be disclosed."

He said , "Besides, in contravention to FRCA, the parties have received foreign funding from companies including Dow Chemicals, Public and Political Awareness Trust, The Madras Aluminium Company Ltd (MALCO) a part of Vedanta Resources Plc, Sesa Goa Ltd, Sterlite Industries India Ltd, Solaries Holdings Ltd and Hyatt Regency between FY 2003-04 and 2011-12. All their parent companies are foreign based which is in direct contravention to the FRCA," he said.

Member of coordination committee of MP Election Watch Sachin Jain said, "While Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has received Rs 19,42,50,000 as foreign funds, Rs 9,83,50,000 has been received by Indian National Congress (INC) in the years 2003-04 to 2011-12."

While, BJP has received Rs 5,29,97,000 as donations from the state for FY 2011-12, INC on the other has received no donations, the report says.
"20% of the five crores received by BJP came from influential builders," said Prof Chhokar.

Jain added, "The rules pertaining to the donations is highly flawed as donations made less than Rs 20,000 need not be disclosed by the political parties. Hence accounted donors who have donated more than Rs 20,000 to the political parties only comprise 8.85% for INC, 19.46% for BJP, 1.39% for SP and 0% for BSP respectively which is ridiculous."

ADR members then called for amendments in section 13A of the Income Tax Act. "ADR while gathering the above information from RTIs in IT department and Election Commission of India (ECI) came across various instances where many state/regional parties not recognised by ECI have not filed their IT returns," said Jain.

They also called for greater financial transparency. "To ensure accountability and transparency of political parties, there should be stricter rules. Recommendation put forward by Institute of Chartered Accounts of India (ICCI) to standardise reporting of financial statements of political parties should be implemented at the earliest," said Rolly Shivhare, MP state coordinator, NEW.

Meanwhile, the MP state unit of BJP has seen a growth in the total number of contributors for 4 in FY 2003-04 to 517 in FY 2011-12, the report revealed. INC, BSP and SP on the other hand have no contributors for the latter period.

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