If a fraudulent company donates money to a political party, who is to blame? The party or the donor? This is the crux of a debate that has been doing the rounds after the Aam Aadmi Party’s splinter group on Monday alleged the party was involved in money laundering.
The only rule that governs political parties regarding donations is that no one is allowed to accept foreign funding and money from government-owned companies.
According to the Representation of People’s Act, political parties can accept any amount offered to it voluntarily by a person or a company other than a government company or foreign source.
All other rules are for companies that donate money.
“All we want to know is what law have we broken? We did everything we could think of to make sure that the money we are getting is clean. We ask for people’s PAN numbers, we check for company registration and we publish the name of the donator, the amount and the transaction ID in the public domain. The BJP and Congress can’t say where 80% of their donations have come from,” said Prithvi Reddy, member, AAP national executive.
The party’s political affairs committee, on the other hand, is supposed to keep an eye out for a quid-pro-quo arrangement between a donor and the person who has referred him or her.
“This is to make sure that no favours are being granted by the members in exchange for money,” said a senior AAP leader.
As per laws, it is mandatory for political parties to submit a list of donations over and above Rs 20,000 to the election commission. AAP declares this information on the website.
The rules that govern companies state that a company that has been in existence for less than three years cannot contribute money to any political party. The Company’s Act states that a company can only donate up to 5% of its profit in one year. If this rule is not followed, action can be taken against it.
According to AAP leaders, accessing a company’s balance sheets or information beyond what is available in the public domain is not something they can do. The controversy, however, has made AAP rethink the way it checks large donations.
“We may have to come up with a new set of checks and balances but we maintain we have don’t nothing wrong,” said a senior party member.