Big Bucks for AAP
Decoding the mystery of why the Aam Aadmi party has got more donations than the BJP and the Congress
Akshay Sharma Delhi
At a time when doubts were being raised about the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) performance as the ruling party of Delhi and the air was rife with news about their plummeting popularity; Delhi based Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with the National Election Watch has released a report which will prove to be a shot in the arm for the political upstart. The ADR’s report released on February 8 shows a whopping exponential spike of 275% in the amount of money received by the AAP in the FY 2014-15 compared to the previous year. Other parties, too, saw an increase in the contributions received, but they came nowhere close to the ruling party of Delhi. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received 156% more compared to the previous year while the Congress improved by a respectable 137%. Even the tiny Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) was ahead of both of them as it saw a 177% rise in annual contributions.
Talking to Hardnews, Maj Gen (Retd) Anil Verma, of the ADR had this to say, “There is always a spike in donations around election time, this is why all parties have gained in the last couple of years”. However AAP is different from other parties, Verma insisted: “They are the only party which discloses donations below 20,000, which other parties don’t.”
The report also sheds light on the unique pattern of support that AAP enjoys compared to others. While the established parties get a large portion of their money through contributions from the corporate sector, the AAP is getting most of its funds from individuals who are donating small amounts of money.
Despite being a Delhi centric party, the lion’s share of AAP’s funds come from Maharashtra. According to Verma this statistical pattern indicates that, “They seem to be more popular in Metros, this is probably a legacy of the Anna movement. Most of the donations from Maharashtra are from Mumbai.” AAP seems to have attracted a fan following amongst the NRI community as well. The report states that AAP has received a quarter of their funds from outside India.
(Major Gen Anil Verma (Retd) Head, ADR)
The ADR has been campaigning for a long time to bring more accountability and transparency in how political parties are funded. However their reports have had scant impact as the major political parties have been extremely reluctant to fully disclose their sources of funding. When asked whether AAP’s example is being followed by other parties, Verma was unequivocally
clear that they are not, “There is no change, they are the same as before.” The current law which allows parties to not disclose donations under Rs 20,000 has proven to be a handy tool for them. Verma is pessimistic about this law being amended or scrapped, “It’s unlikely that political parties would scrap a law that they have been using to their benefit all these years.”
There are some significant gaps in the data provided by the AAP as well. It is interesting to note that the top 10 donors to AAP have not fully disclosed the mode of payment of donations. There were 111 donors whose details have not been revealed. Compared to AAP the established parties have an abysmal record on transparency. Furthermore Verma mentioned that, “some state parties claim that they haven’t received any donations above 20,000, nobody believes that”. The highest single donation for AAP came from the Bajaj Electoral Trust, who contributed Rs 3 crore without disclosing the cheque number. While the AAP hasn’t been completely transparent in its monetary transactions but they are miles ahead of everyone else and the spike in the donations suggests that they still retain the goodwill they generated last year.