India

Scam 2024: The Electoral Bonds Scheme And Its Top Contributors Come to Light

Who paid whom, how much and WHY? These are the general questions that everyone asked after the Electoral Bonds data was made public.

On March 14, 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI) posted a list of entities involved in the dubious process of selling and purchasing electoral bonds on its official website, as directed by the Supreme Court of India. The list is divided into two sections: (i) The amount of money donated by different private entities and (ii) The amount of money encashed by different political parties.

The Supreme Court had ordered the electoral body to publish all the details related to the now-defunct electoral funding system and its beneficiaries on March 12. The State Bank of India (SBI), which maintained this controversial set of data, submitted it to the electoral panel after the SC rejected its plea to give the bank more time to submit details. In February, the Supreme Court made a landmark judgment, scrapping the electoral bonds scheme and calling it “unconstitutional”.

 

The Financial Pillars of India’s Political System

The Election Commission of India has published a comprehensive set of data on its website that discloses the political parties and entities that used the secret donation channel between 2019 and 2024. The data reveals that the top 10 donors contributed a total of Rs.16,520 crores through electoral bonds, which aided the political parties.

 

Top donors of the Electoral Bonds Scheme:

  1. Future Gaming and Hotel Services PR: Rs 1,368 crore
  2. Megha Engineering And Infrastructures Limited: Rs 966 crore.
  3. Qwik Supply Chain Private Limited: Rs 410 crores
  4. Vedanta Limited: Rs 400 crore
  5. Haldia Energy Limited: Rs 377 crore
  6. Bharti Airtel Group: Rs 247 crores
  7. Essel Mining and Industries Ltd: Rs 224 crores
  8. Western UP Power Transmission Company Limited: Rs 220 crore
  9. Keventer Food Park Infra Limited: Rs 195 crore
  10. MKJ Enterprises Limited: Rs 192 crore

 

Based on the data published, several political parties have redeemed electoral bonds, including BJP, Congress, AIADMK, BRS, Shiv Sena, TDP, YSR Congress, DMK, JDS, NCP, Trinamool Congress, JDU, RJD, AAP, and the Samajwadi Party.

The Bharatiya Janta Party emerged as the party that benefited the most from the electoral bonds. Interestingly, the Trinamool Congress secured second place on the list, surpassing the Indian National Congress. It is worth noting that the Trinamool Congress, which operates only in one state, outperformed some of the political arena’s most prominent players in terms of financial backing.

 

Timings of Donations That Have People Thinking About Different Scenarios 

One of the biggest political scandals in the world has resulted in a chaotic series of events. This chaos has been reflected on social media through the hashtag #ElectoralBondScam, which has garnered thousands of posts and tweets from various internet users. The most concerning aspect of the recently revealed data is that at least 14 out of the top 30 companies that purchased electoral bonds between April 12, 2019, and January 24, 2024, have faced action from central or state probe agencies.

  • Future Gaming and Hotel Services Pvt Ltd, a prominent lottery company headed by Santiago Martin, contributed Rs 1,368 crore. Oddly, the donations coincided with the ED attaching assets of the company and its various sub-distributors worth over Rs 409 crore in a money laundering case.
  • Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL) is a Hyderabad-based infrastructure giant known for its involvement in significant projects such as the Zojila tunnel. Under the leadership of Krishna Reddy, MEIL has made substantial donations worth Rs 966 crore. Coincidentally, the Income Tax department carried out raids at multiple offices in October 2019. 
  • Haldia Energy Limited donated Rs 377 crore in electoral bonds. It faced action by the Central Bureau of Investigation in March 2020.
  • Vedanta Limited’s Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL) was raided by the ED in August 2022 in connection with a money laundering probe. The group has collectively donated Rs 400 crore in electoral bonds.

 

The Nation Questions, while the Supreme Court Whips SBI for Clarity of ‘Connection’

The Supreme Court has requested a response from the State Bank of India (SBI) regarding the non-disclosure of unique alphanumeric numbers of individual electoral bonds to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for publication on its official website. The electoral bond numbers have a unique alphanumeric identity that is crucial to connect the donor and the recipient in terms of political contributions. The Supreme Court has directed the State Bank of India to upload the unique numbers so that a connection between the contributors of the electoral bonds can be established. Only after this will we be able to find the answers to the WHY part of the many questions we have. 

 

Read more: Centre Notifies Rules for CAA: Stirs the Indian Political Arena Across Different Levels

Andrew s

Andrew has been in the online publishing industry. After receiving his degree in professional journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, he contributed to multiple websites as a freelance writer and feature editor. Mostly, Andrew tackles controversies and theories that lead to a specific conclusion that either debunk or justify a particular claim. Further, Andrew participates in social developments that aim to simplify every individual's way of life and fight for peace. He is the new Editor-in-Chief of Pressroom Today.

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