Most of the major recognized national & state parties have submitted their ‘Annual Audit Reports’ for the year 2020-21. Data from 2017-18 indicates that the number of EBs purchased & redeemed was the lowest in 2020-21. While the three regional parties of YSRCP, DMK & BJD accounted for 75% of the EBs redeemed in 2020-21, BJP retains its position as the largest beneficiary with 65% EBs redeemed till 2020-21.
The 20th Phase of ‘Electoral Bond Scheme 2018’ was announced by Government of India on 30 March 2022. The sale of Electoral Bonds (EBs) was carried out by the State Bank of India (SBI) during 01 April 2022 and 10 April 2022. This was the first sale of Electoral Bonds in the current financial year, with the earlier phase of sale between 01 January 2022 and 10 January 2022. Unlike the earlier phase which was prior to the Assembly elections in five states, there aren’t any immediate elections barring certain bye-elections to Lok Sabha & State Assemblies.
In this story, we look at the trends in purchase & redemption of electoral bonds during 20th phase. Further, with most of the major political parties submitting their Annual Audit Reports for 2020-21, we also look at the trends in Electoral Bonds purchased & redeemed by the respective political parties in 2020-21.
Factly’s comprehensive Dashboard, ‘Electoral Bonds- The Numbers’, has details of the Electoral Bonds across the various phases since the launch of the scheme and can be accessed here.
Electoral Bonds worth Rs. 648 Crores Purchased & Redeemed in 20th Phase
As per the information received from SBI in response to a RTI application, a total of 811 EBs worth Rs. 648.49 crores were sold during the 20th Phase i.e., between 01 April and 10 April, 2022. All the EBs purchased were redeemed. This is about 53% of the EBs sold in the immediately preceding phase in January 2022 when EBs worth Rs. 1.21 thousand crores were sold by SBI during the 19th Phase.
The lower sale of EBs compared to earlier phase is understandable. The 19th phase of sale was prior to the Assembly elections of 5 states during February-March’2022, especially in the key States of Uttar Pradesh & Punjab. There aren’t any major elections currently or scheduled in the next few months except for certain bye-elections Lok Sabha & respective state assemblies.
Out of the 811 Bonds purchased in the latest phase, 640 EBs i.e., 79% of the total bonds were of Rs. 1 Crore denomination. Comparatively, the share of EBs of one crore denomination bonds in the 19th Phase were 56%. In line with the earlier trends, the bonds of lower value have a lower share. During the 20th phase, 79 EBs of Rs. 10 Lakh, 55 of Rs. 1 lakh and 37 EBs of Rs.10 thousand denomination were purchased.
During 20th Phase, most EBs purchased & redeemed in Hyderabad
Out of the 811 Electoral Bonds that were purchased in the 20th Phase, 530 were purchased in Hyderabad. The value of these Electoral Bonds is Rs. 425.99 crores which is around 66% of the total value of EBs purchased in the latest phase. The next highest purchase was made in Chennai. A total of 100 EBs worth Rs.100 crores were purchased. While 93 bonds were purchased in Kolkata, the value is lower with Rs. 39 crores compared to Mumbai & New Delhi with 43 & 40 EBs of Rs. 43 crores and Rs.40 crores respectively.
Hyderabad also tops in terms of the EBs redeemed. As highlighted earlier, all the EBs purchased in 20th Phase were redeemed, and of these, 525 EBs were redeemed in Hyderabad. The next highest number of EBs were redeemed in New Delhi, with 165 bonds worth Rs.165 crores. A further 100 EBs were redeemed in Chennai. With no elections in the immediate future in either of the Telugu-speaking states of Telangana & Andhra Pradesh, the reason for the major portion of EBs being purchased and redeemed in Hyderabad is uncertain.
Least number of Electoral Bonds purchased in 2020-21
The first phase of EBs sale was during March’2018. This was the only phase for the year 2017-18. A total of 520 EBs worth Rs. 222 crores were sold in the first phase. In the ensuing fiscal year of 2018-19, there were seven phases of sale of EBs, through which 5,293 EBs worth Rs. 2.55 thousand crores were sold. This year included general elections in few key states as well as the initial phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A higher number of bonds were sold during 2019-20. During the five phases in this fiscal year i.e., IX to XIII, a total of 6,639 EBs worth Rs. 3.43 thousand crores were sold. Phase IX & X coincided with general elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in few of the larger states.
However, in 2020-21, there was a huge fall with only 472 EBs worth Rs. 324.39 crores sold across two phases. It also ought to be noted that this coincided with COVID-19 pandemic in the country. This is the least in terms of number of bonds sold, even lower than the single phase in 2017-18. In terms of value, it is only slightly higher than in 2017-18.
In terms of fiscal years, 2020-21 is an anomaly as Rs. 2.67 thousand crores worth of EBs were sold in the next year i.e., 2021-22. In fact, the amount of EBs purchased in 2020-21 is lower than in the single phase of 2022-23 so far. In terms of value of EBs, 2021-22 is the second highest, while in terms of number of EBs sold, it is the third highest.
3 Regional State Parties accounted for 75% of the EBs redeemed in 2020-21
In an earlier story, we had highlighted that the long waiting period for a common citizen to know about the beneficiaries of EBs. Such information would be available in the public domain only when political parties submit their ‘Annual Audit reports’ to the Election Commission of India (ECI). These reports are uploaded on the ECI website.
Delay in the submission of these annual reports further pushes the timeline to know about the beneficiaries of EBs. In the earlier story, we had highlighted that only 2 of the seven recognized National parties submitted the Annual Audit reports for 2020-21 as of February’2022.
With BJP’s submission of its Annual Audit report recently, we now have the Annual Audit Reports of all the Seven National parties along with most of the recognized State parties. Contributions through EBs is specified in Annual Report as part of ‘Donations’ or ‘Voluntary Contributions’.
In an earlier story, we highlighted that BJP has received the most of EBs till 2019-20. The other major National party i.e., INC stands a distant second. However, 2020-21 presents a contrasting picture with BJP being the beneficiary for only about 6.9% of the Electoral Bonds redeemed in that year.
We have already highlighted that 2020-21 is unique in terms of the lower value of electoral bonds purchased in the year compared to the other years. In this one-of-a-kind year, the regional parties benefitted the most from EBs.
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), a recognized state party as well as the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh is the number one beneficiary in 2020-21. As per its ‘Annual Audit Report’ submitted to the ECI, the party received Rs. 96.25 crores worth EBs which account for 29.7% of the total EBs redeemed in 2020-21. Two other regional parties (recognized state parties), DMK and BJD received Rs. 80 crores & Rs. 67 crores respectively, which constitute 24.7% & 20.7% of the total EBs redeemed in 2020-21 respectively. These three parties together received more than 75% of the EBs redeemed in 2020-21.
Among the recognized National parties, Trinamool Congress received the most EBs worth Rs. 42 crores. BJP & INC which traditionally are the top two beneficiaries of EBs received only Rs. 22.39 crores and Rs. 10.08 crores respectively in 2020-21.
AAP & JD(U) are the other parties which received contributions through EBs in 2020-21. As per the available information through the Annual Audit Reports, a total of eight (8) political parties received the contributions through EBs in 2020-21. The beneficiary of about one crore worth EBs is yet to be ascertained from the information submitted with ECI.
BJP is the beneficiary of 65% of the EBs redeemed till 2020-21
Despite receiving a lower share of EBs in 2020-21, the BJP retains a major share of the EBs redeemed by end of 2020-21. A total of Rs. 6.5 thousand crores worth EBs were redeemed by 19 political parties from 2017-18 to 2020-21. This includes 4 recognized national parties and 15 recognized state parties.
The BJP has redeemed Rs. 4.23 thousand crores worth EBs from 2017-18 to 2020-21, which is 65% of the total amount during these years. This is nearly 6 times that of second placed Indian National Congress, which has redeemed Rs. 716 crores till 2020-21. The two regional parties of BJD & YSRCP occupy the next two places followed by Trinamool Congress, a recognized National party.
Beneficiaries of Rs. 2.6 thousand crores worth EBs for 2021-22 will only be known in 2023
As noted earlier, the year 2020-21 was an outlier not only in terms of the lower value of EBs purchased & redeemed, but also in terms of the beneficiaries of these EBs. For the first time, recognized state parties cornered a significant portion of EBs so much so that three recognized state parties accounted for 75% of the EBs redeemed in 2020-21 while the BJP & Congress together accounted for about 10% of the EBs redeemed in 2020-21.
However, this does not alter the overall composition of the beneficiaries of EBs, especially of the BJP because of the lower number of bonds purchased & redeemed in 2020-21. Even after including 2020-21, the BJP is the beneficiary of close to 2/3rd of the EBs redeemed till 2020-21.
In 2021-22, EBs worth more than Rs. 2,600 crores were purchased & redeemed, in line with the trend in 2018-19. With the national parties being the key stake holders in the states that went to elections during 2021-22, it is quite possible that unlike in 2020-21, BJP & INC could have the primary beneficiaries of EBs in 2021-22. However, one can only be certain of this after the parties submit their ‘Annual Audit Reports’ for 2021-22, which could only be in early 2023.