Fresh data on funding of six national political parties has revealed that 75% of the money they received in the past eight years cannot be traced back to an individual or group.
The Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party and main opposition party the BJP were the biggest gainers of this un-sourced funding.
Altogether the six parties received nearly `4,900 crore between 2004 and 2012.
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 firms and 16% was internally generated by the parties from sale of assets or membership fees.
“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 more than Rs 20,000. “Political parties are exploiting this loophole,” Sastry said on Friday.
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, Chhokar added.
Of the ‘invisible funding’, a whopping R780 crore was donated close to last general elections in 2009 with the Congress receiving the largest chunk at Rs 313 crore. A similar trend of higher donations close to state assembly elections was also seen.
India is among less than 20 countries that allow anonymous donations to political parties.