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Opinion

Election bonds worth 6,210 crore sold since 2018, RTI inquiry reveals

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Election bonds worth Rs62,103,947,000, printed in 13 phases, have been sold through March this year since 2018, according to the State Bank of India in response to an inquiry filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

The query, which was submitted by activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retired), shows that close to 660,000 electoral vouchers have been printed as of March 19, 2020. However, only 12,452 were sold as of March.

Voter Bonds are issued four times a year: in January, April, July and October. This year, however, they were only aired in January and October, just before the Bihar elections. As of March of this year, only 47 election bonds worth CU1,000, 70 worth CU10,000, 1,722 worth CU100,000, 4,911 worth 1,000,000 and 5,702 worth 10,000,000 were sold.

Almost 92% of the printed Rs10,000,000 electoral vouchers have been sold, while almost 7% of the Rs1,000,000 have been sold. The rest of the denominations have hardly been sold, assuming less than 1% of the total printed.

Of the printed bonds, 12 have been canceled so far, one worth Rs 1,000,000 and eleven worth Rs 10,000,000. “The economic affairs department has not shared the reason for its cancellation,” Batra told the Hindustan Times.

Election bond printing, since its inception in 2018, has cost more than Rs 18,599,000. These are printed at a price of Rs 28 per bond, including GST. “The cost of printing is borne by the government, that is, the taxpayers,” said Batra. “The denominations sold also show that only rich companies are buying these bonds.”

Electoral ties have been a contentious issue among the opposition and civil rights activists who claim it makes the system opaque, with no means of tracking the taxpayer.

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