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Vedanta, Airtel, Essel among top funders of Indian political parties in last 5 yrs, data shows

NEW DELHI, March 14 (Reuters) - Some of India's biggest companies, including Vedanta Ltd, Bharti Airtel , RPSG Group and Essel Mining were among the country's top political funders over the last five years under a now-scrapped opaque political funding system, official data showed on Thursday.

The information was made public by the Election Commission of India following an order on Monday from the country's top court.

The political funding mechanism introduced in 2017 allowed companies and individuals to donate unlimited amounts anonymously to political parties.

The funding system, called Electoral Bonds, was challenged by opposition lawmakers and a civil society group on the grounds that it hindered the public's right to know who had given money to political parties. The Supreme Court banned Electoral Bonds last month, calling them "unconstitutional".

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Under the system, a person or company could buy bonds from government-owned State Bank of India and donate them to a political party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party was the largest beneficiary of these bonds, which were donations, garnering 55% of the bonds worth 120 billion rupees ($1.45 billion) donated between January 2018 and January 2024 by people and companies.

($1 = 82.9200 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Bengaluru and New Delhi bureaux; Editing by Susan Fenton)