The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received Rs 743 crore in donations above Rs 20,000 in financial year 2018-19, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, according to the party’s declaration to the Election Commission of India (ECI) onOctober 31 that was made public on Monday. This is a lot more than what other national parties received, and the highest that the BJP has ever raised through such donations.
Political funding laws in India make it mandatory for political parties to disclose the details of all donations received in excess of Rs 20,000. Parties receive such donations from companies, individuals and electoral trusts, and such donations are often seen as a proxy for genuine corporate political funding. Money received through electoral bonds does not come under this, and parties need not disclose the details of donors.
The Rs 743 crore received by the BJP is over three times more than the combined amount received in such donations by all other six national parties, including the Congress. The Congress received Rs 147 crore in such donations, the second highest among the national parties and just a fifth of what the BJP received. (Chart 1)
The highest single donation made to the BJP in 2018-19 was by the Progressive Electoral Trust, which donated about Rs 357 crore to the party, nearly half of the total donations.
The Rs 743 crore of the BJP was the highest it received in such donations in at least 16 years, according to data compiled by election and political party watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). To be sure, even the Rs 147 crore that the Congress received was its highest in 16 years, but the BJP has maintained a wide lead over the Congress in terms of such donations for a decade. The BJP’s lead over the Congress peaked in the year 2017-18, when the BJP received about 16 times more in such donations than the Congress. However, the gap between the two parties has narrowed in 2018-19. (Chart 2)
To be sure, the money political parties raise in such donations is only a fraction of their total annual income. For example, the BJP and the Congress received Rs 437 crore and Rs 27 crore in donations in 2017-18, but their total income was Rs 1,027 crore and Rs 199 crore respectively. National parties other than the All India Trinamool Congress have not yet filed their annual audit reports, wherein parties disclose their total income and expenditure in a financial year, for the year 2018-19.
Figures from past 16 years show that the donations above Rs 20,000 have at most comprised 51% of the BJP’s annual income ( in the year 2016-17), and have been as low as 3.6% in 2006-07.