National parties collected Rs 3,377.41 crore from unknown sources in the 2019-20 financial year, which was 70.98 per cent of the total income of these parties, according to poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). In a new report, the ADR said that the BJP declared Rs 2,642.63 crore as income from unknown sources, the highest among the national parties, which also include Congress, NCP, CPI, CPI(M), TMC and BSP.
"During the financial year 2019-20, the BJP declared Rs 2,642.63 crore as income from unknown sources which is 78.24 per cent of the total income of national parties from unknown sources (Rs 3,377.41 crore)," the report said. The Congress declared Rs 526 crore as income from unknown sources which is 15.57 per cent of the total income of the national parties from unknown sources, the ADR said.
"National parties collected Rs 3,377.41 crore from unknown sources in the financial year 2019-20, which is 70.98 per cent of the total income of the parties. Out of the Rs 3,377.41 crore as income from unknown sources, share of income from Electoral Bonds was Rs 2,993.826 crore or 88.643 per cent," the report said. Between 2004-05 and 2019-20, the national parties collected Rs 14,651.53 crore from unknown sources, it said.
According to the donations reports, containing details of donations above Rs 20,000 of the 2019-20 fiscal, Rs 3.18 lakh was received in cash by the national parties. The poll rights body also said that the combined income of the Congress and the NCP from sale of coupons between the financial years 2004-05 and 2019-20 stands at Rs 4,096.725 crore.
Unknown sources are income declared in income tax returns, but without giving source of income for donations below Rs 20,000. Such unknown sources include 'donations through Electoral Bonds', 'sale of coupons', 'relief fund', 'miscellaneous income', 'voluntary contributions', 'contribution from meetings/morchas'. The details of donors of such as voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.
The ADR recommended that scrutiny of financial documents submitted by political parties should be conducted annually by a body approved by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Election Commission of Indai to increase transparency and accountability of political parties with respect to their funding. National and regional political parties must provide all information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the ADR said.
"This will only strengthen political parties, elections and democracy. However, RTI or not, political parties should voluntarily account for every rupee that they get or spend, the poll rights body recommended.