New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received a giant share of voluntary donations to political parties in the fiscal year ended 31 March, riding on the majority it secured on its win in last year’s general election.
BJP’s declared number of voluntary donations in excess of ₹ 20,000 each was more than twice the aggregate of the rest of the national parties put together, according to data released by the New Delhi-based Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) on Monday.
Political parties declared 1,695 such donations that amounted to ₹ 622.38 crore. Out of this, the BJP received ₹ 437.35 crore from 1,234 donations. In 2013-14, the party received ₹ 170.86 crore.
ADR has used data submitted to the Election Commission by political parties. The Representation of People Act (RPA) of 1951 mandates that political parties submit their contribution details for every donation above ₹ 20,000, following which they get a full income-tax exemption.
The Congress party, which is worried about its thinning coffers after the defeat in general elections last year, also saw a more than twofold jump in its total donations to ₹ 141.46 crore in 2014-15 from ₹ 59.58 crore in 2013-14.
The highest increase was, however, recorded by the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) at 177%, from ₹ 14.02 crore in 2013-14 to ₹ 38.82 crore in 2014-15. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) has not declared any donation above ₹ . 20,000 in the last two fiscal years.
The finances of the Left parties remain the lowest, with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, and Communist Party of India (CPI) together accounting for only ₹ 4.75 crore of donations in 2014-15.
“One way of seeing it is that typically the party in power always gets a lion’s share in voluntary donation and this is the main reason why the BJP has a big chunk in the 2014-15 donations," said Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-member of the ADR.
After becoming the first party since the Congress in 1984 to win a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha, the BJP with its allies won a series of assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Jharkhand, and lost in Delhi and Bihar.
According to ADR and NEW data, corporate donations made up 92.61% of total donations to all political parties. Individual donations made up just 7.27% of total voluntary donations.
Cheques and demand drafts (65.84%) were the most preferred way of routing donations. Declared cash contributions made up only 0.14% of the total. Contributions with incomplete details accounted for 22.85%.
Interestingly, in terms of states, Maharashtra was the highest contributor, accounting for 42% of total donations to political parties ( ₹ 262.51 crore), followed by Gujarat at 4% ( ₹ 24.76 crore) and Delhi at 2% ( ₹ 15.34 crore). The rest of the states together accounted for only 3% of total donations ( ₹ 16.35 crore); a total of 49% ( ₹ 303.42 crore) donations had undeclared addresses.
“The ADR’s demand is that there should be transparency in the financial affairs of the political parties and internal democracy in their functioning. We also feel that political parties should be brought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act wherein citizens can make queries directly," Chhokar added.