Electoral bonds: BJP got Rs 6,986.5 crore; Future Gaming DMK's top donor

Future Gaming's Rs 509 crore donation to DMK constitutes 77% of DMK's disclosed bond receipts, queries arise on the remaining Rs 859 crore

A sample electoral bond (photo: National Herald archives)
A sample electoral bond (photo: National Herald archives)


Top purchaser of electoral bonds Future Gaming and Hotel Services donated Rs 509 crore to Tamil Nadu's ruling party DMK through the now-scrapped payment mode, the Election Commission's data showed on Sunday, 17 March.

The donations given by Future Gaming, whose owner, "lottery king" Santiago Martin, has been under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate (ED), accounted for more than 77 per cent of the total receipts from electoral bonds of Rs 656.5 crore disclosed by the DMK.

Since most political parties have not fully disclosed the names of the donors, it was not known who were the beneficiaries of the balance Rs 859 crore worth bonds purchased by Future Gaming.

The disclosure is part of the data dump pertaining to a total of 523 recognised and non-recognised political parties made public by the Election Commission (EC) on the Supreme Court's orders. This followed another dataset published by the EC last week based on the information submitted by the State Bank of India (SBI), the sole bank authorised to sell and redeem electoral bonds.

The latest dataset released by the EC included scanned copies of the disclosures made by the political parties, running into hundreds of pages.

While the majority of political parties have solely provided a chronological breakdown of the value of bonds they encashed, 10 recognised parties - AAP, DMK, AIADMK, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Samajwadi Party, National Congress Party (NCP), and Janata Dal (United) - have included the names of donors along with the amounts they contributed.

In its filing, Samajwadi Party disclosed total donations worth Rs 10.84 crore, of which it said 10 bonds totalling Rs 10 crore it received "by post (no name)".

For the remaining amount, it listed S K traders, San Beverages, A K Traders, K S Traders, B G Traders and A S Traders as donors.

While initially the data submitted by the SBI pertained to a period from 12 April, 2019 till the scrapping of the bonds by the apex court last month, the latest disclosure is based on the declarations given by various political parties in November last year on the bonds redeemed by them since the scheme was launched in early 2018 and exclude the last few tranches.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre received the maximum funds through these bonds at Rs 6,986.5 crore since they were introduced in 2018, followed by West Bengal's ruling party Trinamool Congress (Rs 1,397 crore), Congress (Rs 1,334 crore) and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (Rs 1,322 crore), according to the latest data shared by the EC.

Odisha's ruling party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was the fifth-largest recipient at Rs 944.5 crore, followed by the DMK at Rs 656.5 crore and Andhra Pradesh's ruling party YSR Congress at nearly Rs 442.8 crore.

According to an earlier report compiled by NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), electoral bonds worth Rs 16,518 crore were sold from March 2018 to January 2024.

Collating the two datasets, the BJP is estimated to have received a total amount of Rs 7,700 crore during the entire duration of the scheme.

According to the data released on Sunday, the Janata Dal (Secular) received bonds worth Rs 89.75 crore, including Rs 50 crore from Megha Engineering, the second-largest purchaser of electoral bonds.

Future Gaming was the biggest purchaser of electoral bonds at Rs 1,368 crore, of which nearly 37 per cent went to the DMK.

An image purportedly of the offices of Future Gaming has been doing the rounds on social media ever since the donors’ list was put up, with Netizens expressing considerable scepticism about the company

Other major donors of the DMK included Megha Engineering (Rs 105 crore), India Cements (Rs 14 crore) and Sun TV (Rs 100 crore).

The TMC received Rs 1,397 crore through electoral bonds, making it the second-largest recipient after the BJP.

The DMK is among the few political parties that have disclosed the identity of the donors, while major parties such as the BJP, Congress and TMC have not completely revealed these details to the EC, which has now made those filings public pursuant to a Supreme Court order.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) redeemed bonds worth Rs 181.35 crore, Shiv Sena Rs 130.38 crore, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Rs 56 crore, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Rs 50.51 crore, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha Rs 15.5 crore, Samajwadi Party (SP) Rs 14.05 crore, Akali Dal Rs 7.26 crore, AIADMK Rs 6.05 crore, National Conference (NC) Rs 50 lakh from the Bharti Group and Sikkim Democratic Front Rs 50 lakh.

While the AAP did not give a cumulative figure of its donations, the SBI's data showed it had received Rs 65.45 crore, while it is estimated to have received another Rs 3.55 crore after its filing with the EC, taking its total to Rs 69 crore.

Among the major parties that have disclosed the identity of their donors, the AIADMK got most of its donations from India Cements-owned IPL cricket team Chennai Super Kings, while the contributors to the JD(S) included the Aditya Birla Group, Infosys, the JSW Group and the Embassy Group.

AAP disclosed Bajaj Group, Torrent Pharma, KMZ Investments, NJK Enterprises, BG Shirke Construction Technology as also two individuals, Arvind Jha and Rohitasawa Chand as its donors for an amount totalling Rs 5.75 crore in the year 2018-19.

JDU listed Bharti Airtel and Shree Cements as its donors. For its Rs 37.75 crore receipt, NCP listed donors as Neotia Foundation, Bharti Airtel, Cyrus Poonawalla, Bajaj Finserv and Oberoi Realty, among others.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) declared that it has not received funds through electoral bonds, while the filings made by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) showed nil receipts.

After the disclosures, the opposition parties have dubbed the electoral bonds as legalised corruption, while the BJP has said scrapping of the bonds could lead to the return of black money in politics.

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