About 65 per cent of all electoral bonds sold since the scheme started in 2018 till the latest data that is available for October 1-10 this year, were sold at Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad branches of SBI, information shared by the State Bank of India in response to a query under the Right To Information Act has revealed.
However, 62 per cent of the total bonds that were encashed were at the New Delhi branch, the RTI response showed, reports The Indian Express. A total of Rs 6,748.97 crore was encashed from the New Delhi branch, followed by Rs 1,384.03 crore at Hyderabad, Rs 1,012.98 crore at Kolkata, and Rs 749.50 crore at the Bhubaneshwar SBI branch.
The bonds have been encashed at 14 regional branches of SBI so far. Bonds worth Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2.50 crore were encashed at the Srinagar and Gangtok branches respectively, according to the data.
According to the RTI response, since the first tranche was sold in 2018, electoral bonds worth Rs 10,791.47 crore were sold at 17 branches of SBI. A total of 29 SBI branches are authorised to sell the electoral bonds.
As per the information shared in a reply to transparency campaigner Commodore Lokesh Batra (retired) on November 23, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad were the top three branches for the sale of electoral bonds. In Mumbai, the sale stood at Rs 2,742.12 crore, Kolkata Rs 2,387.71 crore, and Hyderabad Rs 1,885.35 crore, the data showed.
The New Delhi branch accounted for the sale of electoral bonds worth Rs 1,519.44 crore while the amount stood at Rs 1,053.20 crore at the Chennai branch.
Electoral bonds have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency to political funding. The State Bank of India is the only bank that is authorised to issue electoral bonds. The 23rd tranche of the electoral bonds opened for sale on November 9, and closed on November 15.
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Electoral bonds can be purchased by Indian citizens or entities incorporated or established in the country. Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the Lok Sabha or state assembly elections are eligible to receive funding through electoral bonds.