Political parties in India have amassed a staggering Rs 4,662 crore through donation and other sources since 2004, with the ruling Congress at the top with an income of Rs 2,008 crore followed by BJP at Rs 994 crore, claimed two NGOs today.
Relying on the Income Tax returns and a list of donors submitted to the Election Commission for the period 2004-2011, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) released a report on the income of 23 major political parties.
The report said the income of parties showed a steady growth since 2004. Congress' earnings went up from Rs 222 crores in 2004 to Rs 307 crores in 2011 as is the case with BJP.
The figures, compiled by ADR and NEW, show that Congress' income is Rs 2,008 crores, mostly through selling of 'coupons', since it began heading a government at the Centre in 2004 till 2011, though the percentage of donations is just 14.42 per cent.
On the contrary, 81.47 per cent of BJP's total income of Rs 994 crore in the past seven years came through donations from corporate houses and trusts owned by major firms, including
London-listed Vedanta, the NGOs claimed.
The NGOs said donations and voluntary contributions seem to be one of the major sources of income for most of the political parties and demanded more transparency in functioning of electoral trusts run by corporates and that political parties must be declared as public authorities.
"It is a black box of the political parties. Basic source of corruption in this country is political funding. By regulating political funding, we cannot end corruption, but can make a major dent," said Professor Jagdee Chhokar, Founder member of ADR.
Interestingly, General Electoral Trust (GET) of the Aditya Birla Group and Torrent Power Limited has given donations to both Congress and BJP. According to the report, while the GET gave Rs 36.4 crore as donations to Congress, it contributed Rs 26 crore to the BJP's coffers.
While national parties like the Congress and BJP got donations from corporate houses and trusts, regional outfits like the DMK have received lakhs of rupees as donation from its own partymen.
Surprisingly, the CPM's income from 2004-2011 is Rs 417 crore, mostly contributed by individuals who have given less than Rs 20,000 each. The figure is just behind Bahujan Samaj Party's 484 crore, while other major Left party, CPI, has earned only Rs 6.7 crore. The Samajwadi Party's income, according to ADR, is Rs 278 crores.
ADR and NEW said these figures were collected after a protracted battle with political parties and Income Tax Department through the Right to Information Act.
Other major donators to Congress are Torrent Power Limited (Rs 14.15 crore), Bharti Electoral Trust of Airtel (Rs 11 crore), Tata's Electoral Trust (Rs 9 crore), Sterlite Industries (Rs 6 crore, ITC (Rs 5 crore), Adani Enterprises, Jindal Steel and Videocon Appliances.
Again, GET has been the major contributor to BJP's income by donating Rs 26 crore, followed by Torrent Power Limited (Rs 13 crore), and Public and Politial Awareness Centre, which the NGOs claimed belong to Vedanta (Rs 9.5 crore).
Another interesting fact that emerged was that Asianet TV holding gave Rs 10 crore to the BJP and Rs 2.5 crore to the Congress in the past seven years.
The NGOs also claimed that 18 regional or state parties have never filed their contribution reports to the Election Commission since 2004. Prominent among them include National Conference of Jammu and Kashmir, Trinamool Congress and INLD.