While BJP walked away with 95 per cent of the contributions made to political parties via electoral bonds in 2017-18, the first year of implementation of the scheme, contributions received by the party in excess of Rs 20,000 through cheque, bank draft, RTGS/NEFT and other banking modes during the year fell to Rs 438 crore from Rs 529 crore in 2016-17. BJP declared a total income of Rs 1,027 crore for 2017-18, CPM Rs 104.8 crore, BSP Rs 51.7 crore, Trinamool Congress Rs 5.17 crore and CPI Rs 1.55 crore. Congress and NCP are yet to submit their annual audit reports to the Election Commission. In 2016-17, BJP had declared an income of Rs 1,034 crore, CPM Rs 100 crore, BSP Rs 173 crore, Trinamool Congress Rs 6.09 crore and CPI Rs 2 crore. As per BJP’s audit report for 2017-18 submitted to the EC, the party encashed electoral bonds worth Rs 210 crore out of the total Rs 222 crore issued by banks in the year, covering only the first tranche relating to the period March 1-10, 2018. However, there was a fall in ‘other contributions’ to BJP from Rs 923 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 714 crore in 2017-18 and also in total value of donations above Rs 20,000 received, from Rs 529 crore to Rs 438 crore.
This is seen as an indication that corporate houses and major donors to the party may have chosen the electoral bonds route over making direct contributions that, if in excess of Rs 20,000, would require their details to be furnished by parties in contributions reports to the EC. Association for Democratic Reforms founder Trilochan Sastry said compared to Rs 438 crore received by BJP in Rs 20,000-plus donations, voluntary contributions worth Rs 552 crore (58 per cent of total contributions) to the party were from anonymous sources. None of the other four national parties that have filed their annual audit accounts for 2017-18 — BSP, CPM, CPI and Trinamool Congress — declared any income through electoral bonds. BJP’s annual audit report for 2017-18 submitted to the EC on November 24 showed a 45 per cent jump in voluntary contributions received by the party as part of its Aajiwan Sahayog Nidhi scheme, under which individuals can make online donations.