Hyderabad: Indian National Congress received Rs 139 crore donation in the last fiscal. The party received Rs 1,39,01,62000 Crore for the financial year ending March 2020. This is Rs 7 crore less than the funds received in the preceding financial year.

NewsMeter has accessed the INC's donation report (in cash above Rs 20,000) submitted to the Election Commission of India.An independent analysis found that India's richest electoral trust 'Prudent' turned out to be INC's top funder. Out of the total donations received, Rs 31 Crore was contributed by Prudent.

To recall, Prudent Electoral Trust was in the news for contributing Rs 144 crore (about 82 percent) of its total Rs 169 crore FY 2018 income to the BJP in the 2018-2019 financial year.

Then it gave Rs 10 crore to the INC and Rs 5 crore to BJD in the same year. Located at Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in New Delhi, Prudent was earlier known as Satya Electoral Trust. Incorporated a year before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it is touted as one of the richest among 22 electoral trusts registered in India.

Prudent is a trust set up by a giant corporation. Many companies route money to political parties through this trust. The body usually submits its list of contributors to the Election commission of India.

This apart from Prudent, Mumbai based Jankalyan Electoral trust donated Rs 25 crore, the second-highest on the list. Followed by 'New Democratic Electoral Trust', INC received Rs 10 Crore from the Chennai based trust.

Interesting, many Congress bigwigs starting from former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former president Rahul Gandhi, interim party president Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, former Congress leader turned BJP MP Jyotiaditya M Scindia, millionaire MP T Subbarami Reddy donated a sum of Rs 54,000 and do not figure in the top donors' list.

The party received Hefty donations from corporate companies. Among the high paying corporate donors for the INC, is ITC Limited. The company donated Rs 4.68 Crore. Other top donors include Muthoot Finance Ltd (Rs 3 crore); B.G Shirke Constructions Technology Private Limited. From Hyderabad, Megacity constructions, Gaytri projects figured in the list

Explaining the different sources of funding Professor Prof Jagdeep Chhokar- of Association for democratic reforms- an election watch body, said , "It is clear that political parties need money to maintain themselves and that they also received donations. The mystery however is that the sources from where the money comes are shrouded in secrecy. All political parties do declare their annual income via their income tax returns but it is believed that, the money is small proportional of money the parties receive and spend. Even in the IT returns, an analyses showed that the source of 75-80 % of the income of all parties, on average was 'unknown'.

He further added, "The government in 2013 introduced a scheme called the Electoral Trust under which, corporates could set up trusts for collecting and donate money to parties. The ostensible intention behind the scheme was that this would prevent direct transaction between political parties and corporates. This was of no use because it was well known that which corporate had set up which trust. Then came the last and latest innovation in the form of electoral bonds introduced in 2017 which have made the process of political funding completely opaque. This is not conducive to healthy democracy and is likely to result in corporates controlling the actions of the government".

While reasons behinds funding is no secret, There is no free lunch. Therefore corporates do not give money to parties out of the goodness of their heart. They donate because they expect a quid-pro-deal (favors of the government) once the party comes to power.

Donations received from Electoral trust

Prudent Electoral Trust: Rs 31 Crore

Jankalyan Electoral trust : Rs 25 crore

Samaj Electoral Trust – Rs 2 Crore

New Democratic trust: Rs 1 crore

Coreena Suares

Coreena Enet Suares is the Editor of NewsMeter. Her stories have been published in the Deccan Chronicle Newspaper and the Asian Age. Coreena began her career as a News Anchor. Throughout her journey, she has been able to build a strong network with people from all walks of life. She is an alumnus of Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists- Research and Investigation, a flagship initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Coreena is also a certified fact-checker by Google India Initiative. She has attended the 'Defence Correspondents Course 2019, through which she visited Indo- Pak border, besides traveling on a War-ship and insight into operations of Fighter aircraft. Coreena's focus areas are anti-crime investigation agencies and Defence reporting. You can follow Coreena on [email protected]

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