Ahead of assembly elections in five states, the government on Thursday approved issuance of the 19th tranche of electoral bonds which will be open for sale from January 1 to 10. Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency in political funding. However, Opposition parties have been raising concerns about alleged opaqueness in funding through such bonds.
“State Bank of India (SBI), in the XIX Phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorized Branches with effect from January 1 to January 10, 2022,” the finance ministry said in a statement. The 29 specified SBI branches are in cities such as Lucknow, Shimla, Dehradun Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, and Mumbai.
Assembly elections for 5 states- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Goa- are expected to be announced next month. The sale of the first batch of electoral bonds took place from March 1-10, 2018. The 18th tranche of bond sale took place from September 1 to September 10, 2021. According to provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds can be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or entities incorporated or established in India. Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last election of Lok Sabha or legislative assembly are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
SBI is the only authorised bank to issue such bonds. An electoral bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue. No payment would be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period, as per the statement.
The bond deposited by any eligible political party into its account would be credited on the same day.