Political bonding through Electoral Bonds, Future Gaming largest buyer

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In compliance to the orders of Apex Court, the details of the electoral bonds (EB) made available by the Election Commission in public domain has opened up a pandora’s box, making many shocking facts surface up. The recent data made available by State Bank of India also includes details mentioning name of the buyer of electoral bond, the name of the redeeming party and the serial number of the bond.

Top 10 largest purchaser of EB

Future Gaming and Hotel Services

The largest buyer of Electoral Bonds was found to be Future Gaming and Hotel Services, owned by ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin who purchased the maximum bonds worth a whopping Rs 1,368 crore. The company gave electoral bonds worth Rs 509 crore to Tamil Nadu’s ruling party DMK. It also gave bonds worth about Rs 160 crore to Andhra Pradesh’s YSR Congress Party, Rs 100 crore bonds to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rs 50 crore to Congress.

Megha Engineering & Infrastructural Limited

The second largest donor is Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering & Infrastructural Limited which purchased EBs worth Rs 966 crores. The company donated the highest amount of around Rs 586 crore EB to BJP followed by Rs 195 crore to BRS, EB of Rs 85 crore to DMK and YSR, while Congress received Rs 37 crore, TDP Rs 25 crore and Congress got Rs 17 crore.

Quick Supply

Quick Supply’s name comes among the third largest donors to political parties. It had bought bonds worth Rs 410 crore between 2021-22 and 2023-24. It donated the highest amount of Rs 395 crore to BJP. After this, Rs 25 crore was given to Shiv Sena.

Haldia Energy Limited

Haldia Energy, a West-Bengal based company, which had been booked by the CBI in 2020 in a case of alleged corruption bought EB worth Rs 377 crore.
Sanjiv Goenka, Director of the company, runs businesses include power and energy, carbon black manufacturing, retail, IT-enabled services, FMCG, media and entertainment, and agriculture.

Bharti Airtel

Bharti Airtel and its subsidiary Bharti Telemedia bought around Rs 235 crore of electoral bonds and donated all but about Rs 1 crore to the ruling BJP, according to data released by the Election Commission.
Bharti Airtel donated nearly Rs 197.5 crore to BJP, Rs 50 lakh to J&K National Conference, besides Rs 10 lakh to Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Bharti Telemedia, which is a subsidiary of the Sunil Mittal-led telecom firm Bharti Airtel, donated bonds worth Rs 37 crore to BJP, the data showed.
In all, the two Bharti Group entities donated about Rs 234 crore to BJP, via electoral bonds.

Essel Mining and Industries

Essel Mining and Industries, owned by Aditya Birla group, has emerged as the single biggest contributor to Biju Janata Dal’s electoral funds, providing Rs 174.5 crore to the political party, showed the data on electoral bonds released by the Election Commission. Out of the total bond purchases of Rs 223.5 crore over several years, the company donated Rs 49 crore to BJP.
Essel Mining and Industries has extensive operations in Odisha which is being ruled by Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Keventer Foodpark Infra Limited

Kolkata-based FMCG group Keventer has emerged as the seventh biggest donor through electoral bonds worth Rs 195 crore, Keventer group is promoted by Mahendra Kumar Jalan, who is currently the Chairman Emeritus of Keventer Group.

DLF Group

Fresh electoral bond data released by Election Commission revealed that the DLF group had donated Rs 170 crore to the BJP between October 2019 and November 2022.

The bonds were purchased by three firms: DLF Commercial Developers Limited, DLF Garden City Indore Private Limited and DLF Luxury Homes Limited.

Yashoda Super Specialty Hospital

Yashoda Super Specialty Hospital bought bonds worth Rs 162 crore of which Rs 64 crore or 39 percent went to the Congress party from July 2021 up to October 2023.

Jindal Steel and Power Limited

Jindal Group companies, including Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and Jindal Stainless Ltd, purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 195.5 crore and were among the top 50 donors, according to the data by the Election Commission of India.

Heavy funding to political parties

The top five political parties include the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that received a total of Rs 6,060.5 crore, All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) received a total of Rs 1,609.5 crore, the Congress at the third spot received Rs 1,421.8 crores, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) encashed Rs 1,214.7 crore, and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) received Rs 775.5 crore.

A scrutiny of the data published by the Election Commission of India reveals that the top 10 of the total 487 donors to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party account for Rs 2,119 crore, which is 35 per cent of the party’s electoral bond kitty of Rs 6,060 crore encashed since April 2019, the largest amongst all parties.

Data published by the Election Commission includes information about electoral bonds worth Rs 12,769 crore from April 12, 2019 to January, 2024.

The Supreme Court, in its order immediately nixing electoral bonds on February 15, said, “There is also a legitimate possibility that financial contributions to a political party would lead to a quid pro quo arrangement because of the close nexus between money and politics.”

BJP in top spot

While the BJP, which is the largest recipient of electoral bonds, received a total of Rs 6,060.5 crore as electoral bonds, it encashed the majority before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, followed by the 2021 and 2023 assembly elections.

The party redeemed Rs 1,771.57 crore worth of electoral bonds between April and May 2019, before the Lok Sabha election. In comparison, in July 2019, after the polls, it encashed bonds only worth Rs 15 crore.

Between January and April 2021, with key state assembly elections due in four states and one Union Territory, including West Bengal (where the BJP has been looking to wrest power from the TMC), Assam (that has emerged as a key stronghold in the northeast since 2016), Tamil Nadu and Kerala (southern states where the BJP is yet to make electoral inroads) and Puducherry, it redeemed electoral bonds worth Rs 292 crore.

Between July and October 2021 the party only encashed bonds worth Rs 80 crore.

In 2023 when assembly elections were due in key Hindi heartland states (two of which were Congress-ruled) Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan along with Telangana and Mizoram, the BJP encashed electoral bonds worth Rs 1,149 crore in the run-up to the polls between July and December 2023.

In comparison, the party encashed bonds worth Rs 527 crore in the first half of the year – between January and April 2023.

Trinamool Congress

According to Election Commission data, the biggest beneficiary of donations made by ‘lottery king’ Santiago Martin’s Future Gaming was Trinamool Congress. The party received electoral bonds worth at least Rs 540 crore from Future Gaming. Apart from this, the party also received donations from Vedanta Group, Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Rungta Sons Private Limited, pharmaceutical company Natco Pharma.
TMC, has surprisingly surpassed the grand old party of India, the Congress, by encashing electoral bonds worth Rs 1,609.5 crore between April 2019 and January 2024. Between April 2019 and April 2021, the TMC encashed bonds worth Rs 196 crore.

Congress

Congress received a total of Rs 1,421.8 crore through Electoral Bonds. It encashed Rs 168 crore between April and May 2019, ahead of the last Lok Sabha election. It redeemed Rs 1.7 crore in October 2019, and Rs 9 crore in 2020.

Ahead of the assembly elections in 2021, the party redeemed Rs 65 crore between January and April that year.

Between January and April 2022, when elections were due in Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Goa, the party redeemed Rs 127 crore and subsequently went down to Rs 37 crore in October that year after losses in the polls.

Its victory in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, results of which were declared on December 8, 2022, helped it receive electoral bonds worth Rs 209 crore between December 13, 2022 and April 20, 2023.

During this period, it received Rs 190 crore in April itself – ahead of the Karnataka elections where it recorded a resounding victory.

Following its defeat in the four of the five states (it only won Telangana), the party encashed just Rs 35 crore in January 2024.

Vedanta Group was the major contributor to the Congress with a donation of Rs 125 crore, Future Gaming and Hotel Services Rs 50 crore besides Rs 17 crore from Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited.

It also received contributions from Yashoda Super Specialty Hospitals, Bharti Airtel, Apollo Tyres, Western UP Power and Transmission, MKJ Enterprises and Keventers.

Major donors of Electoral Bonds

• Future Gaming and Hotel Services – Rs 1,368 crore
• Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited – Rs 966 crore
• Quick Supply Chain Private Limited – Rs 410 crore
• Haldia Energy Limited – Rs 377 crore
• Bharti Airtel and its associated companies – Rs 248 crore
• Bharti Group – Rs 247 crore
• Essel Mining and Industries Limited – Rs 224 crore
• Western UP Power Transmission Company Limited – Rs 220 crore
• Keventer Foodpark Infra Limited – Rs 195 crore
• Madanlal Limited – Rs 185 crore
• DLF Group – Rs 170 crore
• Yashoda Super Specialty Hospital – Rs 162 crore
• Utkal Alumina International – Rs 145.3 crore
• Jindal Steel and Power Limited – Rs 123 crore
• Birla Carbon India – Rs 105 crore
• Rungta Sons- Rs 100 crore

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