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Electoral Bonds: Decoding Congress’s little pockets of resistance

Electoral bonds

While the BJP maintained a stark dominance in electoral bond encashments overall, data reviewed by India Today shows the Congress performed comparatively better in small pockets where its chances of winning elections were higher.

Electoral Bonds

In Short

  • BJP received Rs 6,060 crore through electoral bonds, Congress got Rs 1,422 crore
  • Congress drew more money in phases 15 and 17, coinciding with Tamil Nadu polls
  • Congress’s highest encashment in October 2023 before assembly polls in 5 states.

The prominence of a Tamil Nadu-based lottery company and a Hyderabad-based business conglomerate as top donors, alongside the ruling BJP emerging as the primary beneficiary of electoral bonds, is not the only takeaway from the electoral bonds data published by the Election Commission.

Since April 2019, the BJP has garnered a significant Rs 6,060 crore through electoral bonds, compared to the Congress’s Rs 1,422 crore. But notable exceptions occurred when the Congress had a higher chance of winning elections.

On average, the BJP encashed 42.7% of the total encashment against Congress’ 9.1% between phases 9 and 30, data for which was released on Thursday. However, little pockets of resistance from the Congress were seen in some phases.

For instance, Congress managed to draw more money than BJP in phases 15 and 17 corresponding to January 2021 and July 2021 respectively, as per data released by the Election Commission and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). Interestingly, these instances coincide with the assembly elections in states like Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala, where the Congress’s position was notably firm.

In phase 15, Congress encashed Rs 7.1 crore against BJP’s Rs 1.5 crore, whereas in phase 17 it redeemed bonds worth Rs 24.7 crore against Rs 18 crore by the BJP. Interestingly, Congress party’s highest numbers were reported around October 2023, when it encashed Rs 401.9 crore against BJP’s Rs 359 crore in the same phase.

States expecting polls during this period were Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, where the party was either in power or was expected to make a comeback.

Congress’s second highest encashment during a single phase was reported in April 2023, before the Karnataka polls with Rs 190.6 crore. The incumbent BJP redeemed Rs 334 crore in the same phase, but lost the southern state. Another small phase that saw the grand old party outstripping the BJP was in July 2022, when it encashed Rs 57.5 crore against the latter’s Rs 12.5 crore.

The BJP, on the other hand, scored its highest in the run-up to the previous Lok Sabha elections, encashing Rs 1,064 crore against Congress’s Rs 118 crore in April 2019, corresponding to phase 9 of the electoral bonds.

The saffron party went on to redeem bonds worth Rs 707 crore in the next month against Congress’s Rs 50 crore during that phase. The data released after the Supreme Court’s order only covers details of electoral bonds sold and encashed since April 12, 2019, although phase 9 started on April 1, 2019, as per ADR.

This article was published on India Today.

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