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Which City Sold Maximum Value Of Electoral Bonds?

By Samreen Wani, Sachin P Mampatta
February 27, 2024 08:29 IST
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Mumbai accounts for the largest share of electoral bonds sold since inception.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

Electoral bonds have emerged as the preferred method of donation to political parties, especially for regional parties.

Regional parties have accounted for a larger share of electoral bonds in their funding than national ones in three of the past five years.

They have also witnessed the sharpest decline in declared corporate funding, a potential indicator of their political donations coming in undeclared through electoral bonds.


The Supreme Court declared the route unconstitutional on February 15, 2024.

In the year the bonds were introduced, they constituted less than a tenth of the total donations of regional parties and a fifth of the donations of national parties.

In 2018-2019, electoral bonds made up over 60 per cent of the donations to all recognised political parties in India.

In 2019-2020 (a Lok Sabha election year), a larger share of national party donations still came from electoral bonds.

However, this trend changed in subsequent years, even as national parties received larger donations in absolute figures.

Over 80 per cent of regional party donations came from electoral bonds in 2021-2022 (FY22) when 11 state assembly elections were held.

Major General Anil Verma (retd), head of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), welcomed the Supreme Court decision to scrap electoral bonds and said that electoral bonds gained popularity for donations because of the anonymity they offered.

ADR was one of the petitioners challenging the legality of the electoral bonds scheme.

"Political parties and donors were happy with the system of anonymity (under the electoral bond scheme). They were getting tax exemptions, and there was no limit to the donations that could be made," General Verma said.

"Slowly, it became popular among all parties, although in the beginning, the Bharatiya Janata Party received a larger chunk of the donations. But what we have observed, and also submitted in court, is that the bonds favour the ruling party, be it in a state or nationally," he said.

In 2016-2017, before the bonds were introduced, about half of national party donations and a third of regional party donations were declared as coming from the corporate sector.

In FY22, their share had shrunk to 22 per cent for national parties and 13 per cent for regional parties.

After the bonds were introduced, corporates slowly started shifting to the electoral bond scheme because of the anonymity offered.

"We have been including electoral bonds under the category of income from unknown sources because we don't know who these donors are," General Verma added.

Mumbai accounts for the largest share of electoral bonds sold since inception.

The total value of bonds sold in Mumbai was Rs 4,009.4 crore (Rs 40.09 billion), according to data from the Association for Democratic Reforms.

The data is from March 2018 to January 2024. It is followed by Hyderabad, Kolkata and New Delhi.

The four cities together account for over Rs 13,222 crore (Rs 132.22 billion) worth of bonds sold.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the anonymous nature of the instruments, which also have no ceiling on donations, removed earlier limits on corporate funding.

The apex court has reinstated these limits by removing the scheme.

The court observed that businesses can have a larger influence on the political process than individuals.

Company donations can influence policy in a way favourable to the donors. Mumbai is home to India's largest conglomerates and the largest source of taxes for the government.

The total value of bonds sold in various tranches has neared $2 billion. The scheme began in 2018. It sold over Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) by April 2019, ahead of the elections at the time.

It has since sold for over twice that amount. The total number has reached Rs 16,518.1 crore (Rs 165. 18 billion).

ADR, in an October 2023 update on the Electoral Bond Scheme, noted that the route seems to be primarily used by those with deep pockets, although bonds are available in denominations as small as Rs 1,000.

Most of the money came in through bonds in the denomination of Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million).

94.25 per cent, or Rs 12,999 crore (Rs 129.99 billion), of the total value of bonds purchased were in the denomination of Rs 1 crore, indicating that these bonds are being purchased by corporates rather than individuals, according to the note.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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Samreen Wani, Sachin P Mampatta
Source: source