Electoral bonds over Rs 1,000 crore sold during assembly polls, 400% surge recorded

The highest sales in the recent tranche were reported in Hyderabad, Telangana's capital (Rs 359 crore), followed by Mumbai (Rs 259.30 crore), and Delhi (Rs 182.75 crore)

Representative image of an electoral bond (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of an electoral bond (photo: National Herald archives)
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NH Political Bureau

Political funding through anonymous electoral bonds surged by over 400% during the recently held assembly elections in Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram, the Indian Express reported.

Quoting data from the SBI obtained obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the report claimed that from 6 November to 20 November , electoral bonds worth Rs 1,006.03 crore were sold and encashed, with 99% of the total amount raised through the sale of Rs 1 crore denomination bonds.

In contrast, during the sixth tranche in 2018, sales amounted to Rs 184.20 crore for the same states where elections were held in November-December of that year.

The highest sales in the recent tranche were reported in Hyderabad, Telangana's capital (Rs 359 crore), followed by Mumbai (Rs 259.30 crore), and Delhi (Rs 182.75 crore).

When it came to encashing the poll bonds, the New Delhi branch recorded the highest amount redeemed at Rs 882.80 crore, with Hyderabad trailing at Rs 81.50 crore.

In other states with elections, Jaipur (Rajasthan) saw poll bonds worth Rs 31.50 crore sold, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) had sales of Rs 5.75 crore, and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) reported sales of Rs 1 crore. However, none of these states recorded any encashment, and no sales were reported in Mizoram.

Despite the anonymity guaranteed by the scheme, the data indicates that the majority of funding originated from Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi, directed towards political parties in Delhi, suggesting contributions to national parties.

The 29th tranche was announced by the government on 4 November, just two days after the Supreme Court reserved its judgment on petitions challenging the electoral bond scheme's validity. Introduced in 2018 to enhance political funding transparency, the scheme has faced criticism for its perceived opacity, as the identities of donors are kept confidential. SBI remains the sole authorised bank to issue electoral bonds.

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