Electoral bonds: BJP gets 3 times more funding than Congress from Kerala-registered companies

The BJP received three times more than Congress through electoral bonds from companies registered in Kerala. Graphic: Onmanorama

Kasaragod: Six companies registered in Kerala donated Rs 38.10 crore to three political parties via electoral bonds.

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), formerly known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which ran the government in Telangana, walked home with around 65% of the funding from Kerala, thanks to the donation by businessman-cum-politician Sabu Jacob.

Sabu Jacob's Kitex Children’s Wear Limited and Kitex Garments Limited donated Rs 25 crore to BRS after the then Telangana government courted the group to set up its textile factory there in 2021.

Of the remaining, the BJP received Rs 10.03 crore from companies registered in Kerala, through electoral bonds. The Congress, meanwhile, got Rs 3.08 crore, three times fewer than the BJP.

Apart from Kitex's donations, the biggest electoral bond buyer from Kerala turned out to be an entity called Aishwarya Business Corporation Private Limited in Alappuzha's Kaniyamkulam. The company promoted by Anita Rajesh Nair and Rajesh Nair Mohan donated Rs 5 crore to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in May 2019.

Lulu India Shopping Mall, owned by billionaire M A Yusuff Ali, bought two bonds worth Rs 2 crore and donated to BJP in January 2022.

According to councillors in Alappuzha, the Nairs owned buses and dabbled in civil construction work. They then moved to Mumbai and had a construction business in Bellary. The Bellary business ran into rough weather during the pandemic, said a confidant of the family. A few months ago they came to Kaniyamkulam to sell their multi-storey apartment block, run on lease by another person for the past 17 years, said a councillor.

Aishwarya Business Corporation pipped big names such as Lulu India Shopping Mall Private Limited, promoted by billionaire M A Yusuff Ali, Muthoot Finance Ltd, and Apollo Tyres in donating to political parties.

Muthoot Finance, promoted by George Alexander Muthoot and George Jacob Muthoot, bought 30 electoral bonds worth Rs 3 crore on April 16, 2019. They were redeemed by the BJP on April 25, 2019.

Apollo Tyres, led by Onkar Kanwar and registered in Ernakulam, bought three bonds worth Rs 3 crore on April 18, 2019. They were redeemed by the Congress.

The dates coincided with the last Lok Sabha elections which were held between April 11 and May 19, 2019.

Lulu India Shopping Mall bought two bonds worth Rs 2 crore and donated the money to BJP in January 2022. On July 11, 2022, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the group's Lulu Mall on a 45-acre plot in Lucknow. With a built-up area of 19 lakh square feet, it is one of the biggest malls in India.

Hyderabad:  Kitex Group Managing Director Sabu M Jacob with delegation visit to Telangana company will release a formal evening met IT MINISTER KT RAMA RAO in Hyderabad on Friday, July 09, 2021. (Photo: IANS)
Kitex Group Managing Director Sabu M Jacob with his delegation meet Telangana minister KT Rama Rao in Hyderabad. Photo: IANS

Geojit Investment Services Ltd, registered in Kochi, bought 19 bonds worth Rs 10 lakh on January 8, 2022. It gave Rs 7.5 lakh to the Congress and Rs 2.5 lakh to the BJP. The bonds were redeemed by the two parties in the same month.

Flight from Kerala was not free
In July 2021, the Telangana Government, then led by K Chandrashekar Rao of BRS, sent a "special flight" to pick Kitex Group's top management, including Sabu Jacob, for talks.

Sabu had already announced he was withdrawing an investment worth Rs 3,500 crore in Kerala because of alleged harassment by government officials and was looking for another state to set up his garments factory.

The group zeroed in on Telangana's Warangal to set up its first factory.

In July 2023, as the construction work was nearing completion, Kitex Children's Wear and Kitex Garments Limited bought 15 electoral bonds. Kitex's Rs 15 crore went into BRS's pocket.

In September 2023, the Chief Minister's son and the then IT minister K T Rama Rao laid the foundation stone for another Kitex factory in Ranga Reddy district. The next month, two Kitex companies bought bonds worth another Rs 10 crore in October 2023. BRS redeemed the bonds the same month.

After the Election Commission of India released the names of the donor companies, Kitex's Sabu Jacob told 'The Fourth' that he donated the money "out of fear".

Sabu Jacob is a corporate politician, too. His 'Twenty 20’ non-political outfit controls four grama panchayats in Ernakulam district. It won 18 of the 19 seats in its home ground of Kizhakkambalam grama panchayat; won all the 14 seats in Aikkaranadu grama panchayat; 14 out of 19 seats in Mazhuvannur grama panchayat; and controls Kunnathunad grama panchayat, too.

The ruling communist parties, CPM and CPI, took a stance not to accept donations through electoral bonds.

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