Hyderabad: In April, Hyderabad’s SBI branches sold electoral bonds worth Rs 338.07 crore. Polling in the two Telugu states was held on April 11, so it is being surmised that a certain share of the bonds was raised for the BJP or the Congress.
Hyderabad registered the fourth largest donation to political parties through electoral bonds after Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi.
In reply to a query filed under the RTI Act, the Reserve Bank of India stated that in March the donors, who remained unnamed, paid political parties Rs 1,365.69 crore through electoral bonds. This figure shot up by 65 per cent to Rs 2,256.37 crore in April, when the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections began, taking the total to 3,622 crore in two months.
The electoral bonds scheme which was introduced by the Narendra Modi government in January last year was purportedly aimed at bringing transparency into political donations and cleaning up black money.
It was criticised by the Election Commission and non-governmental organisations as being opaque for keeping the names of donors secret from the public.
The data can only be accessed by the government of the day.
A similar pattern of increasing political donations was seen in Hyderabad last year when Assembly elections were held in December.
Data showed that between March and November last year, `290.50 crore was donated through the bonds. The highest amount came in October.
It was also observed that a month or two before the Lok Sabha elections, the highest amount of anonymous political funding through ‘electoral bonds’ was raised.
Said Mr Jagdeep Chhoka, who had filed a petition seeking a stay on the sale of electoral bonds: “The purchase of electoral bonds for large amounts during the election months indicates that a lot of money is being pumped into the electioneering.
“However, as it has been pointed out, including by the Election Commission in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, bonds purchases do not bring any transparency to the electoral funding.
“A matter of fact, these bonds have removed whatever semblance of transparency was there in political funding.”