New Delhi, Sept. 10: Over a dozen parties, including the Trinamul Congress, have not submitted statements of donations to the Election Commission, a condition mandatory for political outfits that are otherwise exempt from paying income tax, according to an NGO report.
Both the Congress and the BJP have got funds from a group registered in London, though political parties are not eligible to accept contributions from any foreign source.
These are some of the details from a report published by the NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), on the income of 23 major parties. According to the report, the parties have since 2004 earned Rs 4,662 crore through donations.
“It is a black box of the political parties. The basic source of corruption in this country is political funding. By regulating political funding, we cannot end corruption but can make a major dent,” Jagdee Chhokar, founder member of the ADR, told a media conference here.
According to the report, the Congress and the BJP have both received funds from the Vedanta group, which is registered in London. Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of the group, donated Rs 6 crore to the Congress during the financial years 2004-05 and 2009-10, while Madras Aluminium Co. Ltd, also a subsidiary of the group, contributed Rs 3.5 crore to the BJP during the corresponding years.
Trinamul has earned Rs 9 crore since 2004, according to the tax return filed by the party, but it has not submitted a statement of donations.
Income tax rules exempt parties from paying tax. But under the Representation of the People Act, parties have to submit a statement of donations to the poll commission if they have received Rs 20,000 or more from a single donor.
Trinamul MP Kunal Gosh refused comment. Railway minister and party leader Mukul Roy couldn’t be reached.
“The income tax department never checks with the Election Commission as to whether they have received a statement of donation or not. So the political parties easily get away,” Chhokar said.
Seventeen other parties too have not submitted statements of donations since 2004. The list includes the NCP (Rs 160 crore), AIADMK (Rs 59 crore), Akali Dal (Rs 25 crore), National Conference (Rs 21 crore), Janata Dal-United (Rs 26 crore), Telugu Desam Party (Rs 53 crore), DMK (Rs 40 crore), Shiv Sena (Rs 32 crore) and the Forward Bloc (Rs 98 lakh).
The CPM’s income from 2004-2011 is Rs 417 crore, mostly contributions from individuals who have given less than Rs 20,000 each, just behind the BSP’s Rs 484 crore, while the other major Left party, the CPI, earned Rs 6.7 crore.
According to the ADR report, the income of parties has shown a steady growth since 2004. The Congress’s earnings went up — from Rs 222 crore in 2004 to Rs 307 crore in 2011 — and so did the BJP’s. The figures show the income of the Congress — richest with Rs 2,008 crore — has been mostly through selling “coupons”, donations accounting for just 14.42 per cent. In contrast, 81.47 per cent of the BJP’s income of Rs 994 crore in the past seven years came through donations from corporate houses and trusts owned by firms, including the London-listed Vedanta, the NGO said.
While the BSP has declared that it has not received any donations above Rs 20,000, the CPI said its leaders A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja contributed Rs 65 lakh and Rs 21 lakh, respectively, by collecting donations from various sources.