Trust this fund? Now corporates line up to sponsor political parties
In an ironical fallout of the anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare in 2011 and later made into a major political issue by his one-time protégé Arvind Kejriwal, corporates in India have initiated move to make funding of political parties transparent. At least 14 electoral trusts have been set up under new regulatory frameworks by various business houses, including by giants like Tata, Reliance, Mahindra and Bajaj, for contributing funds to various political parties.
According to data available with the corporate affairs ministry, at least 14 electoral trusts have been registered so far. The count is expected to rise further as many other corporates have initiated process to set up such entities before polls start for electing the 16th Lok Sabha. Some of these trusts have decided to release funds to political parties after the elections, while some others are already believed to have made substantial contributions.
Bharatiya Socialist Republican Electoral Trust, Bajaj Electoral Trust and Jankalyan Electoral Trust, are among those already registered, according to latest data available with corporate affairs ministry. Progressive Electoral Trust has been established by Tatas, while Reliance group has set up People’s Electoral Trust. Mining major Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta group has registered the Janhit Electoral Trust.
Satya Electoral Trust has been formed by Bharti group while MP Birla group has incorporated the Paribartan Electoral Trust and K K Birla group has registered the Samaj Electoral Trust Association. The remaining five are Mahindra Electoral Trust Company, Pratinidhi Electoral Trust, Reformative Electoral Trust of India, Gauri Welfare Association Electoral Trust and Harmony Electoral Trust.
Names of many of the trusts do not identify with the business or corporate with which they are associated. In some instances, the trusts and their respective corporate house share common address. Although business houses have been funding political parties, the idea of electoral trust is aimed at streamlining the process as well as to usher in transparency.