Upon closer examination of the data from the Election Commission of India, it’s revealed that a substantial number of the top 20 purchasers of electoral bonds have also made significant contributions in the past to the richest Bharti-backed the Prudent Electoral Trust (PET). This trust has donated a staggering 76 per cent of its contributions to the Bharatiya Janata Party from 2014-23.

Electoral trusts, allowed in 2013 by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance, served as a major conduit for corporate donations to political parties, acting as a ‘safe buffer’ between the political parties and donors. The information about the donors and the receiving parties into electoral trusts have to be disclosed on the Election Commission website.

However, the introduction of electoral bonds marked a departure from this model, allowing for anonymous donations, a factor cited by the Supreme Court in its decision to strike down the scheme as ‘unconstitutional’ as it violates the individual’s right to information and Article 19(1)(a). Despite data disclosure on electoral bonds, the connection between donors and recipient parties still remains unclear.

Top contributors

Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Ltd and Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd have made substantial contributions. These two entities have paid a whopping ₹1,368 crore and ₹966 crore, respectively, through electoral bonds in the period of 2019-24. It’s worth noting that these are the same companies that have made significant contributions to the PET, amounting to ₹100 crore and ₹87 crore between 2014-23.

The data from the Association for Democratic Reforms show that the Bharti group and DLF group have been the only organisations, among others, that have contributed donations to the PET almost every year.