69% income of political parties is from unknown sources: ADR Report
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, Jan 24: About two-thirds of the total income of political parties in the last 11 years (FY 2004-05 to 2014-15) came from unknown sources, reveals a report prepared by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). The report is based on the national and regional parties' income tax returns and statements filed with the Election Commission of India.
The report reveals that total income of the political parties (6 National and 51 Regional) between FY 2004-05 and 2014-15 was Rs 11,367.34 cr. Just 31% of that income (i.e. Rs 3534.36 cr) was from known sources while the rest 69% (i.e. Rs 7,832.98 cr) was from unknown sources.
"This unknown source of funding to the political parties is worrisome. Till the political parties will not bring transparency, black money can't be checked in the elections. Parties needed an internal democracy. De-listing of the parties is a complex task for the authorities but can play a crucial role to check the illegal sources of political funding," Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, founding member of ADR said while releasing the report at India International Center (IIC), New Delhi on Tuesday.
Reports suggests political parties are not required to reveal the name of the individuals or organizations giving less than Rs 20,000/-. As a result, over one third of the funds can't be traced and are from unknown source. While the national political parties were brought under the RTI Act by the CIC ruling in June 2013, they have still not complied with this decision.
According to the analysis INC, BJP and CPM are the top three political parties which have highest total income with Rs 3,982.09 cr, Rs 3,272.63 cr and Rs 892.99 cr respectively with percentage share of 42.92%, 35.27%and 9.62% respectively.
Dr YS Qureshi, former CEC (2nd from left) and Siddharth Vardarajan, Editor, The Wire
Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), SY Qureshi suggested public/state funding as a tool to bring transparency in political funding and check black money in elections.
"First the funding of political parties should be audited. EC had suggested all political parties to use Public/state funding but none of them accept it. There is no consensus among them," SY Qureshi said.
ADR found that BSP is the only party which has consistently declared receiving Nil donations above Rs20,000/- between FY 2004-05 and 2014-15 thus 100% of the party's donations came from unknown sources. The Total income of the party increased by 2057% from Rs 5.19 cr to Rs 111.96 cr during this period.
Total income of national and regional political parties between FY 2004-05 and the 2014-15: Rs 11,367.34cr. While, the income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313% from Rs 274.13cr to Rs 1130.92 cr and while of regional parties increased by 652% from Rs 37.393 cr to Rs 281.01 cr during FY 2004-05 to 2014-15.
The unknown sources are income declared in the IT returns but without giving source of income for donations below Rs. 20,000/-. Such unknown sources include ‘sale of coupans', Aajiwan Sahyog Nidhi', ‘relief fund', ‘miscellaneous income', voluntary contributions', contributions from meetings and morchas etc.
"Transparency can easily be brought in political funding in digital era. While government is pushing digital economy then why the same can't be used for the transparency in political funding?" asked Prof. Trilochan Sastry, founding member and Trustee of ADR.
"All those organizations that get foreign funding and help any political parties should also be banned. The fundamental of political parties is to win elections, and ours is to have good governance. The only guardian of a true democracy is the educated voters," he said.
The ADR has made some recommendations: Scrutiny of financial documents submitted by the political parties should be conducted annually by a body approved by CAG or ECI. The National and other political parties must provide all the information under the RTI.
ADR has also recommended to implement the recommendations of ECI that tax exemption be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok sSabha/ Assembly elections adding that the details of all donors who donate above Rs 2000/- be declared in public domain.