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Electoral bonds worth ₹695 crore sold during recent Assembly polls, highest amount in Kolkata

The State Bank of India sold electoral bonds worth ₹695.34 crore from April 1 to April 10, when the elections to the Assemblies of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala were in full swing, according to a Right to Information reply by the bank.

The amount sold was the highest-ever for any Assembly elections since the scheme started in 2018, according to the numbers provided in the reply.

All but ₹2,000 of the electoral bonds sold in the 16th phase of the scheme were encashed, the reply showed. Predictably, the sale of electoral bonds shot up during the elections in comparison to the previous tranche in January when bonds worth ₹42.10 crore were sold, the reply showed.

 

The highest amount of electoral bonds were sold at the Kolkata branch (₹176.1 crore), followed by New Delhi branch (₹167.5 crore) and Chennai branch (₹141.5 crore), according to the RTI reply. Hyderabad and Mumbai branches sold ₹91.5 crore worth of electoral bonds each, while ₹15 crore worth of bonds were sold at the Gandhinagar branch, ₹5 crore in Jaipur, ₹4.15 crore in Guwahati and ₹3 crore in Panaji.

During the 16th phase of the scheme, 972 out of the 974 electoral bonds were enchased, with over half the amount — ₹351 crore — being encashed at the New Delhi branch of SBI, the reply showed. The rest of the amount was encashed at Bhubaneshwar (₹116 crore), Chennai (₹106 crore), Hyderabad (₹63.5 crore), Kolkata (₹55 crore) and Mumbai (₹3.8 crore).

In its May 14 reply to a query filed by Bihar-based RTI activist Kanhaiya Kumar on April 16, SBI declined to name the political parties that encashed the electoral bonds, saying it was “third party personal information” that was exempted under the RTI Act.

The bank also declined to share the details of how much commission it had earned from the sale of electoral bonds since the scheme started in 2018, saying the information was of “commercial confidence in nature” and its disclosure would “harm the competitive position of the bank”. Mr. Kumar, however, pointed out that the SBI was the only bank authorised to sell electoral bonds by the government.

Started by the government in 2018, the bonds scheme allows any Indian citizen or company to purchase the bonds sold by the SBI in denominations of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and give them to political parties anonymously.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 5:37:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/electoral-bonds-worth-695-crore-sold-during-recent-assembly-polls-highest-amount-in-kolkata/article34583437.ece

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