By Amogh Rohmetra

2021-22 period — the year DMK came to power in Tamil Nadu — saw greatest amount donated as ‘Lottery King’ gave Rs 249 cr & Megha Infrastructure Rs 40 cr to party.

At least 77.5 per cent of the Rs 656.5 crore that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) received in electoral bonds between the financial years 2019-2020 and 2023-2024 was donated by Santiago Martin’s Future Gaming and Hotel Services, according to data released by the Election Commission of India (ECI) Sunday. The company donated Rs 509 crore to the DMK in this period.
The data uploaded by the EC Sunday included details furnished by political parties on electoral bonds that had been submitted in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court. Only a few parties such as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the DMK have revealed the names of their donors in these disclosures.
The data show that a big chunk of what the DMK received in donations came in the financial year 2021-2022, starting in April when the Tamil Nadu assembly polls were held. The party would ride to power in the state after the votes were counted the following month. In that financial year, Future Games donated Rs 249 crore worth of bonds and Megha Infrastructure donated Rs 40 crore worth of bonds, among other parties.
After the ECI released the first tranche of electoral bonds data Thursday, “Lottery King” Martin, the owner of Future Gaming and Hotel Services’, was in the news for his firm having purchased bonds worth over Rs 1,368 crore, the highest by any entity overall. Political parties, at the time, alleged a direct link between the ongoing money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the firm and the huge amount of bonds purchased by it.
ThePrint earlier reported that the company was a lottery firm probed and charge-sheeted by the ED in September 2023.
“The largest electoral bond donor, at almost Rs 1,400 crore, is Future Gaming & Hotels. It turns out that the son of the owner of Future is a member of the BJP, and that the owner himself met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in April 2023, despite facing many CBI cases. How many more fraudulent companies on the list have close BJP links?” wrote Congress general secretary in charge of communications Jairam Ramesh on X Saturday before the DMK electoral bonds’ data was released.
While the majority of the donations by the company (Rs 859 crore) remain unaccounted for, it turns out that a significant chunk of bonds purchased by the company was donated to the Congress’s southern ally.
Future Gaming and Hotel Services donated Rs 60 crore to the DMK in 2020-21, Rs 249 crore in 2021-22, Rs 160 crore in 2022-23, and Rs 40 crore in 2023 till the time of submission of data.
Another significant donor of the DMK is Megha Engineering and Infrastructure, the second biggest purchaser of electoral bonds overall. The company has donated bonds worth Rs 105 crore to the southern party since 2019. Opposition political parties had also pointed fingers at the BJP when news of the company purchasing bonds worth over Rs 960 crore first came out. The company, accused of misappropriating funds from a Telangana irrigation project, also faced raids from the Income Tax department in October 2019.
In a letter to the ECI, the DMK, while declaring details of its electoral bond donors, wrote, “The format of application for issue of electoral bonds, which is annexure II of the above scheme, 2018, discloses that the details of the donors under the scheme have to be kept confidential by the authorised bank. The scheme also does not require the details of the donor to be furnished to the donee. Under these circumstances, the donors did not strictly adhere to the requirement of furnishing their details whenever they handed over the electoral bonds to us.”
Then it added, “Be that as it may, following the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court, we contacted our donors, and we were able to collect the details from them (sic).”
Among the other regional parties in Tamil Nadu that disclosed the names of donors, the AIADMK, between 2 April 2019 and 4 April 2019, received Rs 6.05 crore, including around Rs 5 crore received from the IPL cricket team Chennai Super Kings.
While uploading the data, the ECI, in a press note, said, “Political parties had filed data on electoral bonds in sealed cover as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s interim order dated April 12, 2019, in the said WP NO.880 of 2017. Data so received from political parties was deposited in the Hon’ble Supreme Court without opening sealed covers (sic).”
The ECI also said that in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order, dated 15 March, 2024, the court has returned physical copies, along with a digitised record of the data, uploaded Sunday.

(Edited by Madhurita

Courtesy: The Print

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