In its first declaration to the Election Commission (EC) on donations received, the Aam Aadmi Party has raised the transparency benchmark for political parties and has declared donations it received from abroad as well.
The AAP revealed that it got money from Indians living abroad in the US, UK, Singapore and even Romania. Most donations from foreign banks were of Rs. 50,000 or less.
EC regulations prohibit parties from getting funds from foreign sources but the AAP said the donations did not violate EC rules as the money was given by non-resident Indians and not foreigners.
However, there may be trouble for the AAP as Foreign Contri-bution Regulation Act, debars receiving any foreign funding without home ministry’s approval. A probe in this regard has been launched by the ministry.
In a rare move for a political party, the AAP did not accept any donations above Rs. 20,000 in cash.
Donations above Rs 20,000 made to the AAP were through cheque or electronic transfer and in most cases the PAN number of the donor was also provided. Unlike other parties, the AAP provided complete details of the donors and the mode of the donations.
However, the EC does not have powers to cross-check the claims made by political parties in its contribution reports.
In contrast, the Congress’ contribution report shows that it got many large donation in cash, especially from its functionaries in the north-east with Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma donating over Rs. 15,00,000 in cash. RBI guidelines suggest that transactions above Rs. 50,000 should be through cheque or electronic transfer.
But, the Congress is not the only party hit by this cash syndrome. Donation details show that most national parties, except the Left, received donations of more than Rs. 20,000 in cash. However, the contribution reports also showed that some state political parties such as Biju Janata Dal, National Conference, Trinamool Congress and AIADMK did not get donations of more than Rs. 20,000 even though they are in power in the states.
Bagam Lalitha of Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, Kunal RS Bajaj of Mumbai and Rajnish Verma donated Rs. 1 lakh each to the AAP.
Among the non-resident Indian donators were Mayurnath Konadondla of the US, Hema Dadhwal of Singapore and Sudeep Thakur of Romania.
Political parties are required to submit details yearly of donations received in excess of Rs 20,000 to the EC. The AAP registered with the panel on March 21, 2013 and submitted its donation details recently.