'Lottery King' Santiago Martin's Future Gaming top donor for DMK

BJP got Rs 6,986.5 crore through electoral bonds * TMC got Rs 1,397 crores, Congress got Rs 1,334 crores and BRS got Rs 1,322 crores * DMK's 77% donations came from Future Gaming * Beneficiaries of Rs 859 crore worth bonds purchased by Future Gaming yet to know
'Lottery King' Santiago Martin's Future Gaming top donor for DMK

New Delhi | Top purchaser of electoral bonds Future Gaming and Hotel Services donated Rs 509 crore to Tamil Nadu's ruling party DMK through the now-scrapped payment mode, the Election Commission's (EC) data showed on Sunday.

The donations given by Future Gaming, whose owner, "lottery king" Santiago Martin, has been under the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) scanner, accounted for more than 77 per cent of the total receipts from electoral bonds of Rs 656.5 crore disclosed by the DMK.

Since most political parties have not disclosed the names of the donors, it was not known who were the beneficiaries of the balance Rs 859 crore worth bonds purchased by Future Gaming.

The disclosure is part of the data dump pertaining to a total of 523 recognised and non-recognised political parties made public by the EC on the Supreme Court's orders. This was followed by another dataset published by the EC last week based on the information submitted by the State Bank of India (SBI), the sole bank authorised to sell and redeem electoral bonds.

The latest dataset released by the EC included scanned copies of the disclosures made by the political parties, running into hundreds of pages.

While initially the data submitted by the SBI pertained to a period from April 12, 2019 till the scrapping of the bonds by the apex court last month, the latest disclosure is based on the declarations given by various political parties in November last year on the bonds redeemed by them since the scheme was launched in early 2018 and exclude the last few tranches.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre received the maximum funds through these bonds at Rs 6,986.5 crore since they were introduced in 2018, followed by West Bengal's ruling party Trinamool Congress (Rs 1,397 crore), Congress (Rs 1,334 crore) and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (Rs 1,322 crore), according to the latest data shared by the EC.

Odisha's ruling party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was the fourth-largest recipient at Rs 944.5 crore, followed by the DMK at Rs 656.5 crore and Andhra Pradesh's ruling party YSR Congress at nearly Rs 442.8 crore.

According to an earlier report compiled by NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), electoral bonds worth Rs 16,518 crore were sold from March 2018 to January 2024.

Collating the two datasets, the BJP is estimated to have received a total amount of Rs 7,700 crore during the entire duration of the scheme.

According to the data released on Sunday, the Janata Dal (Secular) received bonds worth Rs 89.75 crore, including Rs 50 crore from Megha Engineering, the second-largest purchaser of electoral bonds.

Future Gaming was the biggest purchaser of electoral bonds at Rs 1,368 crore, of which nearly 37 per cent went to the DMK.

Other major donors of the DMK included Megha Engineering (Rs 105 crore), India Cements (Rs 14 crore) and Sun TV (Rs 100 crore).

The TMC received Rs 1,397 crore through electoral bonds, making it the second-largest recipient after the BJP.

The DMK is among the few political parties that have disclosed the identity of the donors, while major parties such as the BJP, Congress, TMC and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have not revealed these details to the EC, which has now made public those filings pursuant to a Supreme Court order.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) redeemed bonds worth Rs 181.35 crore, Shiv Sena Rs 60.4 crore, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Rs 56 crore, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Rs 50.51 crore, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha Rs 15.5 crore, Samajwadi Party (SP) Rs 14.05 crore, Akali Dal Rs 7.26 crore, AIADMK Rs 6.05 crore, National Conference (NC) Rs 50 lakh from the Bharti Group and Sikkim Democratic Front Rs 50 lakh.

While the AAP did not give a cumulative figure of its donations, the SBI's data showed it had received Rs 65.45 crore, while it is estimated to have received another Rs 3.55 crore after its filing with the EC, taking its total to Rs 69 crore.

Among the major parties that have disclosed the identity of their donors, the AIADMK got most of its donations from India Cements-owned IPL cricket team Chennai Super Kings, while the contributors to the JD(S) included the Aditya Birla Group, Infosys, the JSW Group and the Embassy Group.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has declared that it will not receive funds through electoral bonds, while the filings made by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) showed nil receipts.

After the disclosures, the opposition parties have dubbed the electoral bonds as legalised corruption, while the BJP has said scrapping of the bonds could lead to the return of black money in politics.

Vast majority of parties received no donations via poll bonds

New Delhi | While several political parties received donations worth crores of rupees via electoral bonds, there is a vast majority which did not get any money through the now-scraped scheme for political funding.

Over 500 recognised and unrecognised political parties had shared details on electoral bonds in sealed covers to the Supreme Court.

The data was submitted through the Election Commission and was put in public domain by the poll panel on Sunday.

Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, which is a recognised national party, has told the Election Commission that it did not receive any funding through electoral bonds since the inception of the scheme.

The National People's Party, which rules Meghalaya, is another national party which received no donations through electoral bonds.

National Conference, a recognised state party in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, has disclosed receiving Rs 50 lakh from the Bharti group through electoral bonds.

The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) disclosed it received Rs 50 lakh via electoral bonds from Alambic Pharma.

Left parties, including CPI, CPI-M, All-India Forward Bloc and CPI-ML did not receive any electoral bond funding. They said as a matter of principle they refused donations through this route.

Some of the registered, unrecognised parties made their submission in hand-written notes on plain paper declaring not receiving any funding through poll bonds.

Several of the parties which are active in states, such as Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, AIMIM, IAUDF, Zoram People's Movement, Asom Gana Parishad, Bodoland People's Front, Kerala Congress (Mani), late Vijayakanth's DMDK, INLD, Tamil Maanila Congress did not receive donations through poll bonds.

On the other hand, some other smaller regional players such as the Goa Forward Party and MGP received electoral bonds worth Rs 36 lakh and Rs 55 lakh respectively.

According to an earlier report compiled by NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), electoral bonds worth Rs 16,518 crore were sold from March 2018 to January 2024.

Got Rs 10 cr electoral bonds anonymously, encashed it: JD (U) to EC

New Delhi | The Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) has told the Election Commission that someone delivered to its office an envelope with electoral bonds worth Rs 10 crore way back in 2019, which it encashed within days but has got no information on the donors.

As the Election Commission on Sunday made public hundreds of sealed-cover disclosures submitted to it by various political parties, filings made by Bihar's ruling party showed that it got electoral bonds totalling more than Rs 24 crore.

The party also disclosed the names of Bharti Airtel and Shree Cement as its donors for bonds with Rs 1 crore and Rs 2 crore, respectively.

In another filing, the JD(U) disclosed donations totalling Rs 24.4 crore through these bonds, many of which were issued from SBI branches in Hyderabad and Kolkata, and a few were issued in Patna.

However, the most interesting filing was made by the Bihar office of the party which said it was not aware about the details of the donors of the bonds received at its Patna office on April 3, 2019, and neither it tried to know because at that time there was no order from the Supreme Court.

"Somebody came to our office on 03-04-2019 at Patna and handed over a sealed envelope and when it was opened we found a bunch of electoral bonds containing 10 bonds of Rs 1 crore each.

"Accordingly, as per gazette notification of the Government of India, we opened an account in SBI Main Branch, Patna, and deposited it, which was credited to our party account on 10-04-2019. In this view of the situation, we are unable to provide any more details about the donors," the JD(U) said.

In the same submission, the party listed Shri Cement and Bharti Airtel as its other donors.

In one of its filing, the Samajwadi Party disclosed total donations worth Rs 10.84 crore, of which, it said, 10 bonds, totalling Rs 10 crore, was received "by post (no name)".

For the remainder amount, the Akhilesh Yadav-led party listed S K traders, San Beverages, A K Traders, K S Traders, B G Traders and AS Traders as donors.

Dattatreya Hosabale
Dattatreya Hosabale

Electoral bonds an 'experiment', time will tell how beneficial it has been: RSS leader Hosabale

Nagpur | Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale on Sunday said the electoral bonds is an "experiment" and time will tell how beneficial and effective it has been.

The RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) on Sunday re-elected Dattatreya Hosabale for the post of 'Sarkaryavah' (general secretary) for three years.

The Election Commission on Thursday released the electoral bonds data, with a number of billionaire tycoons and lesser-known entities being among the buyers.

From steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal to billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal's Airtel, Anil Agarwal's Vedanta, ITC, Mahindra and Mahindra, and lesser-known Future Gaming and Hotel Services were among the prominent buyers of the now-scrapped electoral bonds for making political donations.

Asked about concerns being raised on the electoral bonds issue and claims that they were purchased to get favours, Hosabale said the Sangh has not yet discussed about it as the electoral bonds is an "experiment".

"It has been done with checks and balances and it is not that electoral bonds have suddenly been introduced today, it (such scheme) was brought earlier also. Whenever a change is introduced, questions are raised. Questions were also raised when the EVMs (electronic voting machines) were introduced," he said.

"It is natural that questions will be raised by people when new things come up. But time will tell how beneficial and effective the new system is. Hence, the Sangh thinks it should be left for experiment," Hosabale said.

Asked about the 10-year rule of the Narendra Modi government, he said the RSS welcomes Uniform Civil Code, adding that a resolution demanding its enactment was passed several years ago in the outfit's 'Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha'.

"It has been implemented in (BJP-ruled) Uttarakhand. We would like it to be implemented across the country. But there are certain details like succession, adoption, marriage and other issues that need to be discussed and then they can move ahead," Hosabale said.

People have seen the progress the country has made in the last 10 years and even renowned international experts and political thinkers have reiterated that the current century is India's century, he said.

"Something good must be happening for them to say this. Anyway, people will give their verdict on June 4 (Lok Sabha poll vote counting day)," he said.

On a query on whether the cut off date in the Citizenship Amendment Act must be extended from the current December 31, 2014, the RSS leader said it can be done by the authorities if the need arises.

Asked about the disputes pertaining to the places of worship at Mathura and Kashi, he said Hindu saints and the Vishva Hindu Parishad have raised the issue and have also said the type of agitation depends on the problem.

"What was done for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement should not be done for everything. It is not necessary. The matter is in court. If it is resolved by the court then there is no need for agitation," he added.

Hindu society will do whatever has to be done regarding Kashi and Mathura under the guidance of the religious-social leadership, Hosabale, who was addressing a press conference, said.

To a query on the RSS' definition of "minority", he said the concept is there in the Constitution.

"We all need to (have) rethink over it. Because, this country belongs to all and the method or idea of calling (communities) minority has been going on for decades. Those who are Hindu in the traditional sense, those who are considered as Hindus as per the Hindu Code Bill, are organized by the Sangh," he claimed.

Asserting that Muslims and Christians are considered minorities in India, Hosabale said, "The RSS has always opposed the politics of minoritism. The country is one and this is how it should continue is what the Sangh always says."

The annual three-day 'Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha' of the RSS began at the 'Smriti Bhavan' complex in Reshimbagh area of Maharashtra's Nagpur city on Friday.

The meeting is taking place in Nagpur, the headquarters of the RSS, after six years. A total of 1529 representatives of various RSS inspired organisations attended the meeting that concluded on Sunday.

During the meeting, Hosabale appointed six joint general secretaries for the 2024-2027 period. These are Krishna Gopal, Mukund ji, Arun Kumar, Ramdutt Chakradhar, Atul Limaye and Alok Kumar.

BJP president JP Nadda also attended the ABPS meeting on Sunday.

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