New Delhi: Prudent Electoral Trust has donated money to political parties through electoral bonds, show the latest disclosures by the Election Commission of India.

An electoral trust routing donation money through previously anonymous electoral bonds, unlike the normal practice of writing a cheque to a political party, added another layer of opacity to its political donations.

At present, there are around 18 electoral trusts, which were created in 2013 to allow transparent contribution to parties. The money it receives from entities are party-agnostic, and it is usually the trust’s discretion to split the donations.

Though Prudent Trust has to, by law, say how much money it got from each donor and how much it gave to each party, it is not possible to link individual donors and the political parties that received the funding. It means donors’ money goes into a pool and Prudent decides how much should go to whom.

Now, when a electoral trust donates the money to political parties through electoral bonds, it adds another layer of opacity by not having to declare the name of the political party it donates to, which it had to earlier.

Prudent Trust has not mentioned these donations separately in its annual reports. However, one of the trust’s donors, Delhi-based Bird Worldwide Flight Service (India) Private Limited, wrote in its declaration that in 2018-19 it donated two crore fifty lakh to Prudent Trust, and the amount was contributed towards the purchase of electoral bonds.

Bird Worldwide Flight Services (India) Private Limited’s declaration in the Trust’s annual report

Thanks to the disclosures by some political parties of the electoral bond donations it received to Election Commision following a 2019 SC order, we now know who Prudent Trust donated Rs 1.5 crore of the Bird Worldwide’s donations. It’s unclear who got the balance Rs 1 crore.

Records show at least two parties received the money through Prudent’s electoral bonds: Goa Forward Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal. While the former got Rs 50 lakh, the latter mopped up Rs one crore.

Though voluntary disclosures have been made largely by opposition parties and a couple of BJP allies, the largest beneficiary of electoral bonds, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has not disclosed the names of its donors.

Prudent Electoral Trust has pumped in 72% of the over Rs 2,200 crore it raised to the BJP, according to an analysis by Reuters. The report further says that it has donated nearly 10 times higher to the BJP than it has to the Congress.