An RTI response showed that the State Bank of India (SBI) issued electoral bonds to the tune of Rs 3,622 crore in March and April this year. SBI, the biggest lender in India, is the only bank authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds.
In its response to an RTI filed by Pune-based Vihar Durve, SBI disclosed that electoral bonds worth over Rs 2,256 crore were issued in the month of April, which was up by 65.21 per cent from March month issue, at Rs 1,365.69 crore.
As per the filing, Mumbai saw the maximum value of electoral bonds issued in April, at Rs 694 crore, followed by Rs 417.31 crore in Kolkata, Rs 408.62 crore in New Delhi and Rs 338.07 crore in Hyderabad, among other cities.
Electoral bonds was launched on March 1 last year by the Modi government as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties. The bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India "or incorporated or established in India," the government had said in a statement last year.
The bonds' sale opens in SBI branches when the Finance Ministry issues a notification of their sale for a given period and remains valid for 15 days for encashment by an eligible political party, only through an account with the authorised bank.
Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the bonds.