As it girded up for the Delhi election in December last year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) widely appealed for funds. On November 17, the party surprisingly stopped its fund-raising drive, saying its target of Rs. 20 crore for the election had been met.
A Reang tribal woman displays the indelible ink mark on her finger after casting her vote at a polling station in Khowai district, about 120 kilometres northeast of Agartala, Tripura. (AP Photo/Ramakanta Dey)
The AAP, whose main political agenda is corruption, has taken some landmark steps for transparency in campaign financing, an issue most parties skirt one way or the other.
The AAP is the only party that posts full accounts of its donations on its website, identifying each donor and amounts received, along with transaction IDs, time and place of the donor’s origin. Since political parties are only required to report donations above Rs. 20,000, most parties avoid full disclosures by claiming they received multiple donations of less than that sum.
Many of these steps by the AAP mark a drastic break from the opaqueness surrounding transactions of other parties. The party “strongly encourages” online donations because it entails greater transparency. Nearly 80% of its funding is received online, the party says.
The AAP’s website features payment gateways linked to major banks. Donors make online payments pretty much like they do on a merchant site. According to the party’s website, as on Friday, its donations stood at Rs. 28 crore since December 2013. The funds are given out proportionately to state units, says AAP’s national treasurer Krishan Kant.
Foreign nationals can’t donate to Indian parties, while Indians residing abroad can. A controversy erupted when issues were raised about AAP’s foreign donations. The party has welcomed an investigation, still ongoing, but called for similar probes into other political parties. It claims both the BJP and the Congress have received money from a foreign-held company in violation of rules.
The AAP’s donation policy even states it would reject money if a donor can’t meet its transparency standards. The party has done so in at least two cases because the donor’s credentials were “inconsistent” with its core values of “honesty”, according to the party’s website.
(With inputs from Zia Haq)