Since the controversial electoral bonds scheme came into effect which protected political parties from disclosing the source of their funds the ruling BJP has disclosed receiving over Rs 700 crore in donations through cheques and online payments during the financial year 2018-19, with electoral trust managed by Tatas contributing half of the money.

Tatas-controlled Progressive Electoral Trust gave Rs 356 crore in donation, while Prudent Electoral Trust, India’s richest trust, gave Rs 54.25 crore in donations, according to information the BJP provided to the Election Commission. Prudent Trust is backed by top corporate houses including Bharti Group, Hero MotoCorp, Jubilant Foodworks, Orient Cement, DLF, JK Tyres, among others.

The information provided pertains to donations of Rs 20,000 and above that were received by the party through cheque or online payments. Donations received in form of electoral bonds were not included in the filing. The BJP received donations from individuals, companies as well as electoral trusts.

Electoral bonds, which are anonymous, are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from State Bank of India and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. The scheme was introduced in January 2018. Issued in multiple values of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore, electoral bonds can only be encashed by political parties, which had secured at least 1 per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or state election.

According to The Print, in April, a Right to Information query had revealed that 99.8% of donations that political parties received through electoral bonds between March 2018 and January 24, 2019, were of the highest denominations, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.

As per the election code, political parties are mandated to disclose all donations they receive in a financial year. At present, political parties are not required to declare the names of individuals and organisations giving less than Rs. 20,000 nor of those who donate via electoral bonds.