A Right to Information (RTI) reply this week showed that the majority of electoral bonds sold in April were encashed in Hyderabad, at a time when speculation of early elections to the Telangana Assembly was rife.
In response to a query by RTI activist Kanhaiya Kumar, State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said electoral bonds worth ₹648 crore were sold in the 20th tranche of the scheme from April 1 to April 10. Out of that, around ₹425 crore worth of bonds were sold from the Hyderabad branch, followed by ₹100 crore in the Chennai branch. The rest of the bonds were sold in Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Panaji branches.
Amid speculation, Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao had dismissed the talk of early elections to the Assembly, whose term is till January 2024.
Speaking of the RTI reply, Mr. Kumar said the TRS was the party with its bank account in Hyderabad and since the national parties — the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress — had accounts in New Delhi, the TRS might have been the main beneficiary of the bonds encashed there. However, that cannot be known for sure as the electoral bond scheme provides for anonymous donations to parties.
In the previous tranche in January, a total of ₹1,213 crore worth of electoral bonds were sold at a time the Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand election campaigns were in full swing. As per another RTI reply to Mr. Kumar by the SBI in February, the electoral bonds sold from January 1 to January 10 were almost double than those sold in the April 2021 Assembly polls.