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Lottery firm top donor, BJP biggest beneficiary, poll bond data show

In a 15 February order, the Supreme Court quashed the electoral bond scheme and ordered SBI to provide details of such bonds to the Election Commission 

Lottery firm top donor, BJP biggest beneficiary, poll bond data show
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The Election Commission of India on Thursday, 14 March, made the data on electoral bonds public two days after it received the details from the State Bank of India on 12 March. 

The poll body shared the data in two parts—one containing the purchaser details and the other with the encashment details. 

Earlier, SBI told the Supreme Court that it issued a total of 22,217 electoral bonds from 1 April 2019 to 15 February 2024, out of which 22,030 were redeemed. 

Notified by the central government on 2 January 2018, the scheme allowed any citizen or entity incorporated in India to buy electoral bonds without making their identity public.

In a 15 February order, the Supreme Court quashed the scheme, and ordered SBI, the nodal bank that issued the bonds, to provide details of such bonds to the Election Commission by 6 March.

SBI, however, said more time was needed for collating details and matching them as the information was kept in two silos. The lender sought an extension till 30 June to disclose the details. 

The bench, headed by Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, also comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, B. R. Gavai, J. B. Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, said it had not directed for matching details of donors and donees with other information.

In a sitting on Friday, 15 March, to hear the Election Commission requesting to create a copy of data it had shared with the court, the bench ordered SBI to disclose the electoral bond numbers. The alphanumeric numbers mentioned on the electoral bonds can be used to match the beneficiary party with the donor. 

What does the SBI data reveal?

According to the data uploaded by the Election Commission, Future Gaming and Hotel Services PR—a company founded by Santiago Martin, dubbed the ‘Lottery King of India’—donated ₹1,368 crore ($165 million) during the period between April 2019 and February 2024. 

Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, a Telangana-based infrastructure firm, bought ₹966 crore ($116 million) worth of electoral bonds. The company was founded by Pamireddy Pitchi Reddy in 1991 and is now run by his nephew P V Krishna Reddy. 

The third on the list is Qwik Supply Chain Pvt Ltd—a Reliance-linked firm—which donated ₹410 crore ($49.5 million).

Mining giant Vedanta Ltd bought electoral bonds worth ₹400 crore ($48.3 million) while RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group company Haldia Energy Ltd donated ₹377 crore ($45.5 million) to political parties. 

Other top 10 companies in the list are Bharti Airtel Ltd with ₹247 crore ($29.8 million), Essel Mining and Industries Ltd with ₹224 crore ($27 million), Western UP Power Transmission Co. Ltd with ₹220 crore ($26.5 million), Keventer Foodpark Infra Ltd with ₹195 crore ($23.5 million), and Madanlal Ltd with ₹185 crore ($22.3 million). 

Grasim Industries, Piramal Enterprises, Torrent Power, DLF Commercial Developers, Apollo Tyres, Lakshmi Mittal, Edelweiss, PVR, Sula Wine, Welspun, and Sun Pharma are some of the other corporate groups with significant donations.

BJP top beneficiary

The top beneficiary of the electoral bonds is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), followed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Indian National Congress (INC). While the BJP received electoral bonds worth ₹6,060.5 crore ($731 million), the TMC and the INC received ₹1,609.5 crore ($194.2 million) and ₹1,421.9 crore ($171.5 million), respectively. 

Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), and Dravida Munetra Kazhagham received ₹1,214.7 crore ($146.5 million), ₹775.5 crore ($93.6 million), and ₹639 crore ($77.1 million), respectively. YSR Congress Party with ₹337 crore ($40.7 million), Telugu Desam Party with ₹218.9 crore ($26.4 million), Shiv Sena with ₹158.4 crore ($19.1 million), and Rashtriya Janata Dal with ₹72.5 crore ($8.7 million) are other top political parties encashing the electoral bonds, according to the data shared by SBI and published by the EC. 

Electoral bonds since 2018

While the scheme came into effect in 2018, the data shared by SBI only includes details of electoral bonds purchased from April 2019. 

In a written reply to Parliament on 5 February this year, minister of state for finance Pankaj Chaudhary said that the total value of electoral bonds purchased from SBI since its inception in 2018 was to the tune of ₹16,518 crore ($1.99 billion). 

This was corroborated in an RTI reply by SBI to Commodore (Rt.) Lokesh Batra, one of the petitioners before the Supreme Court who challenged the electoral bond scheme. 

Of the total purchases, ₹16,492 crore were redeemed by the political parties.

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