Business Standard

Mapping the changing dynamics of donations


The political preference­s of the biggest electoral bond donors show subtle shifts over the years.

The share of multiple smaller recipients has come down in all of them, shows a Business Standard analysis of the top three donors each year, based on numbers collated by tracker

Key individual parties have cornered a larger share, with some favouring regional and others national players.

The largest donor through electoral bonds for which data is available is Future Gaming and Hotel Services. It donated to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All India Trinamool Congress and the YSR Congress in 2020. More parties were added in subsequent years. The latest numbers, however, show a narrowing focus. The All India Trinamool Congress accounts for more than 50 per cent of the donations in 2023 and 2024.

The DMK got its peak donation in 2022 — at ~255 crore. This dropped to ~40 crore in 2023 and none so far in 2024.

Megha Engineerin­g and Infrastruc­tures was the second-largest donor. It gave the DMK nothing in 2019 but did so in 2020, 2021 and 2022. It also allocated more capital to the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, based in Telangana, from 2021 onwards.

This shift towards regional parties seems to have begun to taper off recently. Simultaneo­usly, the share of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose. The BJP accounted for over 70 per cent of the contributi­ons in 2023.

Qwik Supply Chain was the third-largest donor. All donations were to primarily

Maharashtr­a-based parties. The largest portion went to the BJP. But the Shiv Sena and the Nationalis­t Congress Party also received donations. This appears to have changed as the BJP got the upper hand in Maharashtr­a. It accounted for all the donations in 2023.

The Election Commission of India has made available the data in phases on its website following a Supreme Court order. The apex court had ruled the electoral bond scheme to be invalid in February. It noted the ability of large corporate donations to influence policy. The regime preceding the electoral bond scheme had put limits on corporatio­n donations. The removal of the scheme effectivel­y brings back the old limits. The data covers the period from April 2019 to February 2024. This takes into account electoral bonds worth roughly ~12,000 crore. The value of all bonds issued is over ~16,000 crore.

The latest data provides identifica­tion numbers, which can connect donor and party. The top three donors have allocated over ~2,700 crore. This accounts for a fifth of the donations for which the data has been made public. Granular detail on the first eight phases of the electoral bonds is yet to be made public.

Individual parties show varying gaps in amounts disclosed in their annual reports and other filings on electoral bonds when matched against the Election Commission data. This is because the latter does not cover all electoral bonds.

The BJP, for example, is seen to have received at least ~500 crore more than the latest disclosure­s show. Granular detail for these bonds and those of other political parties remains unavailabl­e.

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