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As donations dip, charity begins at home in Akali Dal

Such is the extent that the Badal family has had to dip into its businesses to keep the party afloat.

punjab Updated: Aug 18, 2018 16:24 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Akali Dal,Shiromani Akali Dal,Badal family
During 2005-15 when the party was in power, it received Rs 102 crore as donation, the SAD told the Election Commission of India last year.(HT File )

Out of power is out of favour. One of the richest political parties in the country for a decade, the Shiromani Akali Dal is discovering this sad reality with donations from public and corporate houses drying up after the SAD-BJP coalition’s defeat to the Congress in the assembly elections last year. Such is the extent that the Badal family has had to dip into its businesses to keep the party afloat.

During 2005-15 when the party was in power, it received Rs 102 crore as donation, the SAD told the Election Commission of India last year. Disclosing the amount collected in donations is mandatory according to the Representation of People Act.

But in the 2017-18 financial year, the SAD got a donation of only Rs 2.3 crore for which the major contributors were Orbit Resorts Private Limited and Dabwali Transport Company Limited in which party president Sukhbir Singh Badal has major stakes. Orbit Resorts runs luxury hotels in Gurgaon and Mullanpur near Chandigarh and Dabwali Transport runs a fleet of luxury buses on inter-state routes. Both companies contributed Rs 87 lakh and Rs 94.5 lakh, totalling Rs 1.8 crore. This was 78% of the total donation made during the year. Corporate donations also fell. According to information provided by the party to the ECI last month, Avon Cycles, a Ludhiana-based bicycle manufacturer, donated Rs 1 lakh and International Coil Limited contributed Rs 3 lakh. The list of corporate donors was way longer when the party was in power for two terms from 2007-12 and from 2012-17.

During its last year in power in 2016-17, the SAD got Rs 22 crore in donations, according to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO that collects data of political parties in the country. The five years from 2010-15 were a golden phase for the party when collections peaked. The SAD received Rs 76 crore in donation during this period. A sum of Rs 90 lakh came in 2010-11, Rs 30.76 crore in 2011-12, Rs 10 crore in 2012-13, Rs 22 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 12.5 crore in 2014-15.

Humble pie

After the poll defeat in 2017, it’s been a picture in contrast.

Akali leaders are coming forward to make humble contributions. Former CM and party patron Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir, and former ministersBikram Singh Majithia and Parminder Singh Dhindsa are among those who made monthly contributions to the party in the last financial year. The contributions ranged from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

SAD treasurer NK Sharma, who is a real estate developer with multi-crore housing projects, made a humble contribution of Rs 45,000 towards the party, sending Rs 5,000 each for nine months into the SAD coffers. Sharma said the party will raise funds as and when required. SAD leaders started contributing to the party fund after Sukhbir issued a diktat in May last year, asking them to contribute Rs 5,000 every month to manage party affairs. “We can manage well with Rs 7 lakh a month as we have 150 members who can contribute regularly,” a party leader had said last year.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 09:17 IST