ADR: four regional parties got four-fifths of political donations in 2020-21, according to ADR

Five regional parties, including the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu and the ruling YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, received four-fifths of income as political donations in 2020-21, according to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit association.

Thirty-one regional parties, whose filings with the Electoral Commission were analyzed, had earned an income of around Rs 530 crore in 2020-21. DMK reported the highest income of around Rs 150 crore followed by YSR-Congress (Rs 108 crore) and BJD (Rs 73 crore)

Of these 31 regional parties, the ADR analyzed data from 29 parties that had made their data available for 2019-20 and 2020-21. While 10 parties reported an increase in revenue from 2019-20, 19 parties reported a decrease.

The total income of 29 parties in 2019-20 was around Rs 800 crore in 2019-20 but then dropped by around Rs 280 crore the following year.

Between the two years, DMK saw the largest increase in revenue, followed by JD(U) and YSR-Congress.

For the 2020-21 year, 17 parties ended the year with some unspent revenue, while 14 parties spent more than their revenue during the year. The YSR Congress and the BJD reported that more than 90% of their income went unspent in 2020-21.

The DMK, AIADMK, TDP, JDS, CPI(ML)(L), PMK, SKM, JMM, RLD, AGP, ZNP, NPF, SDF and JKPDP have reported spending more than their income in 2020-21. The TDP revealed expenditures of about Rs 51 crore more than its revenue, the highest among regional parties.

Due to the anonymity they provide, campaign bonds have become the most popular method of donating to regional parties in 2020-21. About half of the revenue of the 31 regional parties came from donations through campaign bonds.

The most common and popular expenses of regional parties were election expenses, general propaganda, and administrative and general expenses.

For the year 2019-20, 62% of the income of seven national parties came from donations via campaign bonds (Rs 2,993 crore), where the identity of the donor is not disclosed to the public.

In response to ADR’s RTI query, election bonds worth around Rs 1020 crore were redeemed by political parties in 2020-21. Five regional parties YSR-Congress, DMK, BJD, AAP and JD(U)Rs said they received around Rs 250 crore in donations through campaign bonds.