Money from dubious sources could be funding Indian politics.
Fresh data on funding of six national political parties shows that 75% of the money received by parties during the last 8 years could not be traced to any individual or group.
Party in power, Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party and main Opposition party, BJP, were biggest gainers of this un-sourced funding.
The six parties received nearly Rs. 4,900 crore during 2004-12.
Just about 8.9% of this money came from donors identified in records of political parties, another 2.1% came from electoral trusts set up by private sector firms and 16% was internally generated by the parties from sale of assets or membership fee.
“No one has a clue where the rest of the money is really coming from… all these transactions are suspect,” said Prof Trilochan Sastry, a management professor who co-founded the advocacy group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
The election commission only requires political parties to declare full details of donors who gave in more than Rs. 20,000. “Political parties are exploiting this loophole,” Sastry said on Friday.
The world’s largest democracy, India is among the less than 20 countries in the world that allow donors to political parties to remain anonymous.
Jagdeep Chhokar of ADR said this was a good enough reason to bring political parties under RTI so that citizens can ask questions on funding. It is because the political parties want to continue to hide these details that they got together to scuttle the Central Information Commission’s decision to bring the parties under the transparency law.
Public pressure pushed the government to refer the amendments to the RTI bill to a Parliamentary Committee.
Another aspect of this invisible funding was the biggest chunk of Rs. 780 crore was generated close to last general elections in 2009. The Congress received the maximum of Rs. 313 crore around 2009 elections while CPI got the least. A similar trend of higher donations close to state assembly elections was also apparent.