The wealth of political parties in Indian politics is experiencing significant growth. Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) reveals that in 2014-15, the combined political party income was ₹1,950 crore. This figure increased to ₹4,918 crore in 2022-23, recording an increase of 152 per cent.

Political parties have to disclose their annual income to the election commission, which is put out on the Election Commission of India (ECI) website. This income comprises voluntary contributions, fees and subscriptions, collection by issuing coupons, and other sources of income. The income portion of the income consists of voluntary donations from mechanisms such as electoral bonds, party donations of more than ₹20,000, and donations from electoral trusts.

Data shows that the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) income grew from ₹970 crore in 2014-15 to ₹3,623 crore in 2019-20, marking a 273 per cent growth. However, it subsequently decreased to ₹2,360 crore in 2022-23, reflecting a 35 per cent decrease. In contrast, the Indian National Congress’s (INC) income was Rs 644 crore in 2014-15, which slowly grew to ₹998 crore in 2019-20, representing a 60 per cent growth. However, it declined to ₹467 crore in 2022-23.

On the other hand, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) stands third with the highest income. Its income grew from a mere ₹25 crore in 2014-15 to ₹143 crore in 2019-20, marking a 475 per cent growth. It further increased to ₹333 crore with a 73 per cent growth. Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) saw its income increase from a mere ₹24 crore in 2014-15 to ₹130 crore in 2019-20, and skyrocketed to seven times that amount, reaching ₹737 crore in 2022-23.

Unknown sources

The ADR’s Analysis of Sources of Funding of National Parties 2022-23 report indicates that 59 per cent of donations received by national parties in 2022-23 are from ‘unknown sources.’ Anonymous donations also constitute a significant portion of the parties’ income, highlighting the flaws in Indian political financing laws.

The data for 2022-23 indicates a notable increase in income from voluntary contributions, with the BJP receiving ₹2,120 crore, followed by BRS and AITC with ₹683 crore and ₹327 crore, respectively. Income from fees and subscriptions ranks second, with the INC receiving ₹42 crore, followed closely by CPI(M) and BJP with ₹41 crore and ₹3 crore, respectively.

In FY23, the BJP is the only party that received income in the form of interest from banks, amounting to ₹237 crore.

Donations from voluntary contributions include the transfer of party funds exceeding ₹20,000 and donations from electoral bonds. Out of the total income of ₹29,749 crore, around 55.5 per cent comes from electoral bonds alone from 2019-23. This suggests that party income has doubled since the introduction of electoral bonds, primarily due to their anonymity. The rapid growth in party income has been observed since 2019, onwards.