There is an institution named ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’. The job of this institution is to give the donations to all political parties that this institution collects from the capitalists across the country. That is, all the big companies of the country donate to this institution first and then this institution distributes that entire donation to political parties.
In such a situation, a natural question arises that when the donation comes from the capitalists and goes to political parties, then what is the work of this institution in between? Can the bourgeoisie do this work directly, by donating to political parties? We will discuss this question further. First let us know about this institution and its working style.
The ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’ has always been very kind to the BJP. So much so that whatever donations this organization received from different companies, almost the entire donation was donated to the BJP. For example, out of the total donations of Rs 169 crore received this year, 144 crore was given to the BJP by this institution. While the Congress was given only ten crores and Biju Janata Dal five crores.
Can there be any hidden clues to this huge difference seen in the distribution of donations? It is generally believed that the corporate and industry of the country keep pace with the pace of power. Usually, the corporate gets the call for any possible change in power. But the way in which a large part of the prudent electoral trust is going into the BJP’s account, there may be hidden indications that the trust of the corporate world remains in the BJP and it is confident that the BJP can come back in the coming Lok Sabha elections. . However, instead of any speculation about the election results, it would be better to wait for the final results.
In the words of ADR’s founding member Jagdeep Chhokar, “It cannot be said only on the basis of trust money that the bourgeoisie is in favor of the BJP or they are hoping to win by the BJP, therefore they are giving money to the BJP.” How much money the big bourgeoisie is paying does not appear in our current system because 90 percent of the donations received by the parties come in the form of black money. ”
What is Prudent Electoral Trust?
The ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’ started just before the last Lok Sabha elections. At that time the name of this institution was ‘Satya Electoral Trust’ and 33 companies of Bharti Group were responsible for its establishment. According to the Economics Times report, at that time this institution used to run from the office of Bharti Group in Vasant Kunj (Delhi). But after some time the name of this institution was changed from ‘Satya Electoral Trust’ to ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’ and its office also changed from Vasant Kunj to Hans Bhawan, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
There are about two dozen such institutions in the country which are registered as ‘Electoral Trusts’ and make donations to political parties. Most of these are older than the ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’ but Prudent has beaten everyone else as soon as he comes. Today the situation is that the prudent electoral trust alone is getting about 90 percent of the total donations to all the electoral trusts.
Jagdeep Chokar explains, “Earlier it was said that big capitalists give money to political parties and pressurize them to work in their own interest. To get rid of this, the idea of electoral trust came up so that instead of giving money directly to political parties, these capitalists give these trusts and then trusts should distribute this money to political parties. But the way the trusts are distributing the money, one can understand that the purpose of creating it has not been fulfilled. ”
This year, DLF Group was the leading contributor to Prudent, which alone gave Rs 52 crore to this institution. Apart from this, Bharti Group gave Rs 33 crore, Shroff Group 22 crore, Gujarat’s Torrent Group 20 crore, DCM Shriram 13 crore, Cadila Group ten crore and Haldia Energy Rs eight crore. In this way, the prudent got a total of 169 crore rupees, of which 85 percent of it was given to the BJP and the remaining 15 percent was distributed among other political parties in the country.
After going through the history of ‘Prudent Electoral Trust’, it shows that it has always been giving the largest share of its total donations to the BJP. In the year 2014, this institution received a total of 85.4 crores out of which 41.37 crores (48%) it gave to BJP. After this, in 2015, Prudent gave 106 crores out of total 141 crores to BJP, 45 crores (96%) out of total 47 crores in 2016 and 252 crores out of total 284 crores to BJP in 2017. DLF, Bharti Group, Torrent and UPL are the most prominent companies who pay the highest amount of money every year to this trust that is constantly on the BJP.
By the way, apart from the prudent electoral trust, the other trusts of this category also show more favor to the BJP. If you add up the donations received by all such electoral trusts in 17-18, then almost 85% of this is seen in the BJP’s account. The trust of Aditya Birla Group also gave 12.5 crore out of total 21 crore rupees to BJP this year, one crore to Congress and eight crore to Biju Janata Dal. There are some electoral trusts who hand over all their donations to any one party. But the amount received from such trust is negligible in front of big trust like Prudent.
Between 2013 and 2017, different electoral trusts have received around 638 crore from corporate companies, of which 489 crore BJP.
Has gone to the account of 87 crore and to the Congress account. Moving out of this juggernaut of numbers, let’s discuss some basic questions. The first question is that when the money of the bourgeoisie is to go directly to political parties, then why is there need of such an electoral trust in the middle?
In response to this question, senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta says, “This is done basically because of the flaws that exist in our laws.” There are many shortcomings in our laws related to elections, related to income tax and money coming from abroad. To take advantage of these shortcomings, the way of trust is adopted. ”
A question also arises that why do all the electoral trusts show such kindness to the BJP? Answering this question, Thakurta says, “This is not the first time. Before 2014, when the BJP was not in power, the bourgeoisie was giving it more money than the ruling parties. Now that the BJP is in all the states as well as the Center, it can be understood. ”
Thakurta further adds, “We also need to see that more money is spent in elections only than the money these parties get through trust. There is no account of this money spent in elections and it is completely black money. Our system has completely failed to curb this. Now systems like electoral bonds will make things even worse. ”
Electoral bond is a new system of sending donations to political parties. It is believed that after the implementation of this system, the importance of the Electoral Trust will be completely over. But like Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, many experts consider this new system far more dangerous. Trilochan Shastri, an IIT professor associated with ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms), says, “There is comparatively transparency in the current system. Electoral bonds will weaken this transparency. Because then the government will have information about who the capitalists are giving money to which party but the rest will not have this information. ”
The question of transparency in the election funding system has been stuck for a long time. The problem is that the people who have to make laws in this case are the beneficiaries of this opaque system. Then how did transparency come in the donations to political parties. In response to this question, he says, “The only ideal way of this is what Prime Minister Modi suggested to the whole country after demonetisation. That was a digital transaction of money. Modiji says that money should be given from the rickshaw to the vegetable to the paytm. Then why should political parties not have digital payments? Political parties take all their donations in a digital way, this is the most direct and ideal way. ”
Working style of electoral trust
Looking at the system of electoral trusts broadly, it seems that such trusts take money from big companies across the country and distribute it to political parties. But in such a situation, the question arises that on what basis do the trusts decide which political party to donate? When companies give money to the trust, they also tell them which political party should this money reach? Or do trusts decide it at their discretion?
These questions also arise because the companies that are behind these trusts often say that “the trust is an autonomous institution and the company does not interfere in it”. Example of the country’s largest electoral trust prudent. The Indian group says exactly the same things about it. But if this is the case then why does this trust only hand over a thick chunk of donations to the BJP?
Newslaundry contacted the Prudent Electoral Trust to answer these questions, but their director Mukul Goyal could not be contacted. In the event of any response from their side, we will include it in this report.
Prudent may not have given any answer, but Chhokar has a clear belief that there is a huge difference in the donations of BJP and other parties with the power. He says, “If he is in power, it is natural that he is getting more donations. But we should not forget that the donations we are seeing are only ten percent of the total donations received by political parties. Most of them get donations in the form of black money, which is never known.
However, why the country’s largest electoral trust, which collects donations from companies across the country, gives almost all the donations to the BJP only? It is not too difficult to understand.