The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has emerged a powerful third force in Punjab for the coming assembly polls, is still waiting for Punjabis to loosen their purse strings for it. Of the total money collected by the AAP since December 2013, Punjab’s contribution is only 3.4%. On the donor states’ list -- AAP website shows daily donations from around the world -- Punjab’s position is sixth.
Note, that the party claims that its ‘Punjab Jodo’ campaign has brought 20 lakh families into its fold out of the 56 lakh households in the state. And, ever since its Maghi Mela grand show in January, AAP leaders are working full steam across the state, consolidating the cadre too.
Delhi tops the list, followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Haryana. The total donation from Punjab is Rs 1.7 crore, so far. The donation in the same period from Haryana is more than Rs 2.8 crore. While Delhi has contributed more than Rs 15 crore, Maharashtra is a close second at almost Rs 13 crore. The total assistance to the party from India is now close to Rs 50 crore.
Punjab is the only state where the AAP won any Lok Sabha seats in 2014. Its Sangrur MP, Bhagwant Mann, claims that the huge donation from Punjabi NRIs (non-resident Indians) is yet to be taken into account. Mann adds that the party’s growing popularity is reflected in the fact that of Rs 1.7 crore collected from Punjab since December 2013, more than Rs 1.1 crore came in after November 2014. “In the state-wise contribution to the AAP since November 2014, Punjab is fourth in the country and contributing 6.5% to total donation since. The historic victory of the party in the Delhi state has really energised Punjabis and made them believe in the AAP and their power of vote,” said the MP.
The party has been organising fundraising dinners in the state. From the latest on March 25 in Sangrur, it made Rs 25 lakh, at Rs 5,000 a plate. It prompted Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal to accuse the AAP of “looting people by first inviting them to dinner and then asking them to pay for it”. She said that in the land where free langar was served to people, “this party has set a reverse trend”.
“People are coming round to understanding that the money they give us will not go waste. The fundraising dinners are well attended,” said Mann, adding:“The collection from Punjab is low because it started here last. Also, the state’s culture, so far, was to accept money from politicians, not to give them.”