India's oldest political party still receives most of its money through sale of coupons, unlike other political parties that depend on donations.
The Congress also spends most of the earnings on providing financial support to its candidates, data analysed by an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms has revealed.
According to income tax returns for financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09, the Congress received close to Rs 600 crore through sale of coupons. The party's total collection through sale of coupons was equal to that of seven other national parties in India.
The Nationalist Congress Party is the only other party that collected funds through sale of coupons. It received Rs 51 crore, over 95 per cent of its total earning.
The data, however, did not reveal who bought these coupons or the source of the contributions. Unlike the Congress, the major source of income of all other parties was contributions. The BJP received contributions worth Rs 300 crore in these two years whereas the BSP, India's fastest growing political party wealth-wise, received Rs 203 crore through contributions.
Even the cadre-based CPM received over Rs 55 crore from voluntary contributions. The Samajwadi Party received contributions of Rs 46 crore, followed by the RJD with Rs 5.6 crore. On the expenses side, the Congress was the only party that incurred the maximum expenditure (Rs 215 crore) on funding candidates for elections.
Funding candidates was apparently not a priority for other parties. The BJP and BJP had not listed election expenses separately, whereas NCP spent Rs 4 crore, Samajwadi Party Rs 46 lakh and RJD Rs 20 lakh.
For the BJP, publicity for the party, leaders' travel and conducting meetings were the costliest affairs.
The BSP had a different priority. It spent Rs 86 crore on purchasing immovable property, details of which were not disclosed in the analyses. No other political party seemed to have spent money on purchasing immovable property. The RJD, unlike all other political parties, spent the most on donations.