India’s Electoral Bonds: The Secret Donations

India’s Electoral Bonds: The Secret Donations Fueling Political Power


In recent years, India’s political landscape has witnessed a significant transformation in the realm of campaign financing, primarily due to the introduction of electoral bonds by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. These bonds, though shrouded in secrecy, have emerged as a major source of funding for political parties, particularly benefiting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court has cast a shadow over their future. Let’s delve deeper into this contentious issue.

What are Electoral Bonds?

Electoral bonds (EBs) are financial instruments akin to bearer bonds, purchasable from the State Bank of India in various denominations. They can be bought by individuals, groups, or corporate entities and then donated to political parties of their choice. The most controversial aspect of EBs is the anonymity they afford donors, shielding their identities from public disclosure, unlike traditional donations.

The Controversy Surrounding Electoral Bonds

Since their inception, electoral bonds have been mired in controversy. Critics argue that the anonymity provided by EBs paves the way for corruption and undue influence on government decisions. Moreover, the scrapping of previous transparency measures, such as capping corporate donations and requiring disclosure of donations in financial statements, has further fueled concerns about the integrity of the political funding process.

Beneficiaries of Electoral Bonds: BJP’s Dominance

Data reveals that the BJP has been the primary beneficiary of electoral bond donations, receiving a staggering majority of the total funds. This dominance has significantly bolstered the BJP’s electoral machinery, granting it a substantial advantage over its rivals. The opaque nature of EBs, coupled with the BJP’s access to data from the State Bank of India, has raised suspicions of unfair practices and favoritism.

Challenges and Criticisms

Various organizations, including the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause, have vehemently opposed the electoral bond system, citing its detrimental impact on transparency and fairness in elections. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling, acknowledging the deficiencies of the EB scheme, marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing battle against opaque political funding.

Looking Ahead: Implications for Indian Democracy

As India gears up for its upcoming general elections, the fate of electoral bonds hangs in the balance. The Supreme Court’s ban on EBs could reshape the dynamics of political financing and pave the way for greater accountability and transparency in the electoral process. However, the battle against clandestine funding practices is far from over, requiring sustained efforts to safeguard the principles of democracy and ensure a level playing field for all political actors.


Electoral bonds have emerged as a contentious issue at the intersection of politics, finance, and governance in India. While hailed as a tool for promoting transparency and accountability, they have instead become synonymous with opacity and favoritism. The Supreme Court’s ban on EBs represents a significant step towards restoring integrity to the electoral process, but the broader struggle for clean and fair elections continues unabated. As citizens, it is imperative to remain vigilant and advocate for reforms that uphold the principles of democracy and ensure that political power remains accountable to the people it serves.