BJP received 80 percent of total income from unknown sources of national parties in 2017-18

An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms reveals that the BJP received over Rs 550 crore in income from unknown sources in 2017–18, over four times the amount received by five other national political parties. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images
24 January, 2019

The Bharatiya Janta Party received Rs 553 crore in income from unknown sources in the financial year 2017–18, amounting to over four times the income received by five other national parties—the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India—combined. Donations and other sources of income for amounts under Rs 20,000 are classified as unknown because political parties do not need to disclose details of their respective donors. An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation that works on issues of electoral reform, reveals that the BJP’s unknown income constitutes over 80 percent of the total unknown income of all six parties in 2017–18—a sum of Rs 689.44 crore.

The ADR analysed the unknown sources of income of the six political parties on the basis of their income-tax returns. According to its report, the Congress received Rs 119.91 crore—or 17.4 percent of the total unknown income of the six parties—while the BSP received Rs 10.67 crore and the NCP got Rs 5.37 crore. The Trinamool Congress received Rs 10.4 lakh as income from unknown sources, while the CPI received the least among the six parties, at Rs 30,000. The ADR did not include the donations received by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) because the party did not submit the relevant data to the income-tax department.

Courtesy the Association for Democratic Reforms

The ADR classified the unknown income under various heads, including voluntary contributions, electoral bonds, collections from the sale of coupons—which parties issue to donors for cash contributions—and miscellaneous income. Electoral bonds are financial instruments for anonymous contributions to political parties, which were introduced by the Narendra Modi government in the budget for the financial year 2017-18. They form a significant portion of the BJP’s donations from unknown sources—the party received Rs 210 crore from electoral bonds, whereas the Congress received Rs 5 crore.

Earlier this month, the ADR released another report, which analysed Election Commission data to quantify the donations of over Rs 20,000 received by India’s national political parties. The report revealed that among the donations from known sources, too, the BJP received significantly more than all other parties combined—the ruling party received Rs 469.89 crore, which constituted 93 percent of the total donations declared to the Election Commission.

The latest ADR report provides a further comparison of the total income of the national political parties, which includes donations from known sources declared to the Election Commission, income from other known sources, and income from unknown sources. The parties received a total of Rs 136.48 crore from other known sources of income, which include sale of assets, membership fees, delegate fees, bank interest and the sale of publications. The combined analysis provides a more accurate picture of the amount of money that India’s national political parties have received in the financial year leading up to the 2019 general elections.

Courtesy the Association for Democratic Reforms

As per the ADR report, the BJP’s total income in 2017-18 is Rs 1,027.34 crore—53 percent of which the party received from unknown sources. The Congress received a higher proportion of its income from unknown sources than the BJP—60 percent of its total income of Rs 199.15 crore. The previous ADR report notes that for the past 12 years, the BSP has consistently declared to the Election Commission that it receives no donations over Rs 20,000. The latest report notes that the party received a total of Rs 51.69 crore in 2017–18—around 20 percent of which came from unknown sources, and the rest from other known sources. The NCP records the highest proportion of income from unknown sources among the national parties—65 percent of its total income of Rs 8.15 crore. The Trinamool Congress records a total income of Rs 5.16 crore, of which 2 percent came from unknown sources, whereas the CPI received Rs 1.55 crore in total, and less than 1 percent of it from unknown sources.

Overall, the total income of the six national parties stands at Rs 1,293 crore, and 53.32 percent of it is from unknown sources. The BJP’s total income constitutes nearly 80 percent of the combined income, both known and unknown, of six national political parties.