Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore were sold during March and April in the run-up to and overlapping with four rounds of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections. The State Bank of India (SBI) said in response to an application filed under the Right to Information Act that total sales of the bonds amounted to Rs 1,056.78 crore in 2018.
Mumbai tops the list of the cities where the maximum sale of electoral bonds was registered, according to the RTI response to Pune-based Vihar Durve. SBI, which is authorised to sell these electoral bonds, reported that in March this year it sold bonds worth Rs ,365.69 crore, which later shot up by 65.21% in April to Rs 256.37 crore.
These were introduced after changes in Finance Act 2017; related amendments were made to I-T Act, RBI Act, and Representation of the People Act. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley introduced the electoral bonds as a means of donation to political parties in his budget speech in 2017.
According to SBI, in April, the most electoral bonds were sold in Mumbai at Rs 694 crore, followed by Rs 417.31 crore in Kolkata, Rs 408.62 crore in New Delhi and Rs 338.07 crore in Hyderabad.The scheme of electoral bonds, notified by the Centre in 2018, has been challenged in Supreme Court by Association for Democratic Reforms, non-government research organisation. “The fact that the highest sale of bonds was in the business and commercial capital of the country [Mumbai] shows that the electoral bonds have become the main conduit of money (exchange) between corporates and the political parties..,” said Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of ADR.