Electoral bonds worth Rs 5,851.41 crore were bought by donors to fund political parties between March 2018 and May 2019, of which 80.6 per cent were redeemed in New Delhi, where the headquarters of major parties are located, reply to an RTI query has revealed.

Chandrashekhar Goud, an RTI activist based in Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch, Sunday shared the information furnished by the State Bank of India (SBI) in response to his two queries.

Political parties sold electoral bonds worth Rs 874.50 crore in 10 phases in New Delhi to raise funds, but the value of bonds redeemed in the national capital was more than five times at Rs 4,715.58 crore, he said.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 1,782.36 crore were purchased in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, but only seven per cent of them worth Rs 121.13 crore were encashed there, Goud said.

Bonds worth Rs 1,389 crore were sold in Kolkata, but just 12 per cent of them worth Rs 167.50 crore were redeemed in the West Bengal capital, he added.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 195 crore were sold in the Karnataka capital, Bengaluru, but just one per cent of them worth Rs 1.5 crore were redeemed there, Goud said.

In Hyderabad, bonds of Rs 806.12 crore value were sold, but worth Rs 512.30 crore were redeemed there, Goud said quoting the RTI reply.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 315.76 crore were sold in Odisha capital, Bhubaneswar, of which Rs 184.20 crore were encashed there, he added.

Likewise, Rs 184.20 crore bonds were sold in Chennai, of which bonds worth Rs 51.55 crore were redeemed there.

Electoral bonds worth Rs 5,851.41 crore were sold between March 2018 and May 2019. Of them bonds worth Rs 5,831.16 crore were redeemed within the stipulated deadline spread over 10 phases.

The remaining bonds worth Rs 20.25 crore could not be redeemed within the given deadline and hence their validity got over.

Within the stipulated time-frame, electoral bonds worth Rs 279.70 crore were sold in Gandhinagar, Guwahati, Jaipur, Raipur, Panaji, Thiruvananthapuram and Visakhapatnam, Goud said.

In the 10 initial phases, no bond was purchased in Agartala, Aizawl, Badami Bagh, Bhopal, Dehradun, Gangtok, Imphal, Itanagar, Kohima, Patna, Ranchi, Shillong and Shimla. But bonds worth Rs 17.5 crore were redeemed in Badami Bagh, Patna, Ranchi and Gangtok.

Goud said the RTI reply neither provided the names of the donors, nor the party-wise quantum of funds raised through the exercise.

As per the rules, only those political parties are eligible to open current account for redemption of electoral bonds, which are registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly.

As per the Union government’s Electoral Bond Scheme 2018, only 29 branches of the State Bank of India (SBI) were authorised to issue and encash these bonds in 10 phases.

The bonds are valued at Rs 1000, Rs 10,000, Rs one lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs one crore.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition against these bonds, in April this year directed all political parties to furnish receipts of funding received through electoral bonds and details of identity of donors in a sealed cover to the Election Commission.

The Centre contends that electoral bonds are an attempt at bringing greater transparency, ensuring KYC compliance and keeping an audit trail in comparison to the earlier opaque system of cash donations.