NEW DELHI—A set of companies which includes DLF Ltd and the Bharti Enterprises Limited donated nearly Rs. 600 crores to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the six years till 2017-18, shows an analysis of data on corporate funding to political parties.
A review of three separate analytical studies by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) from 2004-05 to 2017-18 showed that this group—first called the Satya Electoral Trust and later renamed Prudent Electoral Trust—has consistently topped the list of corporates who fund India’s national political parties since 2014.
The trust—which has major contributions from DLF and Bharti Group—toppled Aditya Birla Group’s General Electoral Trust from the No. 1 position the year the Narendra Modi government came to power, and has remained there ever since.
The Prudent/Satya trust was also the top donor to the Congress in the period from 2012-13 to 2017-18, but its contribution was much lower at Rs 81.15 crore.
Electoral Trusts are not-for-profit companies which pool in money, mostly from multiple corporates and business houses, to donate to political parties. All the transactions are recorded and sent annually to the Election Commission in audited reports.
As a sector, electoral trusts contributed much more to the official donations of national political parties than any other source, as per the ADR studies.
Political funding through such trusts is, of course, only a small part of the overall money received by political parties in India. Political parties are not required to disclose the source of donations less than Rs 20, 000. But analysts are worried that a 2017 legislation—which introduced electoral bonds, widely used ahead of the 2019 general election—will make even accessing this limited information impossible. Big-ticket donors can simply buy these bonds and give it to political parties, who can encash it within a stipulated time period without disclosing the source of the money. This could...