SBI's Hyderabad & Kolkata branches sell the most electoral bonds
More than 1,000 electoral bonds of the Rs 1 crore denomination sold in 10 days, the latest sale window — the most popular, in a continuing trend
The 28th window of sale of electoral bonds lasted for 10 days, 4 to 13 October, and followed the same trend as earlier ones — Rs 1 crore bonds were the most popular.
Details shared by the State Bank of India, the sole issuer of electoral bonds, with RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra show that for the latest round:
1. As many as 14 SBI branches, four of them in the southern states, sold in these 10 days electoral bonds of the value of Rs 1,148.38 crore. As much as Rs 1,095 crore of this (95.352 per cent) was in the denomination of Rs 1 crore each.
2. All the 14 SBI branches sold Rs 1 crore bonds — 1,095 of them in all, therefore — with the Hyderabad branch selling the highest number (376), followed by Kolkata (194), Mumbai (169), New Delhi (128) and Chennai (94). The Telangana assembly elections, we would recall, are due in November.
3. Although elections are also due in this month (November) in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, SBI branches in Bhopal and Jaipur only sold electoral bonds worth Rs 13 crore and Rs 10 crore respectively — much less than the Hyderabad branch.
4. Electoral bonds of lower denominations (Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakh) had very few takers.
5. Only four of the 14 SBI branches sold the Rs 1,000 bonds at all — 57 in all, 44 of which were sold by the Gandhinagar branch in Gujarat, followed by 8 bonds by Kolkata, 3 by Bengaluru and 2 by New Delhi.
6. As many as 10 of the 14 designated branches apparently did not sell a single electoral bond in the Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 denominations. These were in Thiruvananthapuram, Ranchi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Chennai, Chandigarh and Bhopal.
7. Even the Rs 1 lakh bonds were not very popular — just 307 of them were sold across five SBI branches in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Gandhinagar.
8. The RTI reply also suggests that only 917 electoral bonds in the denominations ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10 lakh were sold in October during this 28th tranche.
9. While these 917 electoral bonds totalled Rs 153 crore, the 1,095 electoral bonds worth Rs 1 crore each fetched a total of a whopping Rs 1,095 crore — comparable numbers for an overwhelming difference in value.
10. Out of the 2,012 electoral bonds in total that were sold during these 10 days, as many as 1,105 of them were sold by just two branches — Hyderabad and Kolkata.
These are clearly intriguing patterns, but have not been analysed or audited because the electoral bond scheme is so opaque and donors remain anonymous by design.
Earlier phases too had revealed similar patterns, with Rs 1 crore bonds being snapped up by the majority of donors. This suggests that uber-rich individuals, possibly business owners, and corporate entities are funding our political parties, and not common citizens.