Punjab polls: AAP asks for donations, but donors to remain incognito
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab has made a fresh appeal for donations to contest the forthcoming assembly polls. However, unlike earlier, this time the party will be keeping its list of donors a “top secret”.
The AAP, which had taken a high moral stand on the issue of maintaining absolute transparency regarding its finances, has decided, for the time being, to keep all the information guarded.
The move comes after some people reportedly complained to the party of “harassment” by its opponents for donating large amounts to it. The party, as a result, has not put up any information on its donation website for the past several months. The website says the donors’ list is “under construction”, and no time frame has been given as to when it would be available.
“The list of donors is not going to be put out. Our donors are being troubled by opposition parties,” said the party’s national treasurer, Raghav Chadha.
Chadha had last week written to treasurers of the Congress and BJP asking them to disclose the source of unaccounted donations received by them. He had urged them to also make public the names of those who gave donations below Rs 20,000.
“The AAP has always accounted for every penny received. We give all the required details to the income tax department,” Chadha told HT on Wednesday.
When pointed out that the party accounts were not available in the public domain and the AAP website was hosting only an old balance sheet of 2014, Chadha said the latest one will be put up soon.
AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had in a video message issued on December 17 asked for “time” and “donations” from party supporters for the Punjab and Goa polls. “Our party does not accept donations from big persons. If we do that tomorrow we will have to do their illegitimate works also,” he said in the video message. “It is you who made us win Delhi. Now we need you to win Punjab and Goa,” he had added. This was second such request made by Kejriwal after one in August.
“Chances are the AAP’s donations have dropped drastically, and that is why they are not revealing the details,” said the party’s former state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur. “This is for two reasons. The NRIs who were funding the AAP have closed their purses after stories of how their hard-earned money was being misused by the party leaders started coming out. The second is that the persons the AAP leaders had fooled with false promises of poll tickets know where they stand and are not going to spend another penny on the party,” he said.
The party’s candidate from Majitha, Himmat Singh Shergill, has had to ask for donations specifically to defeat revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia. His posters requesting for money say: Donate to defeat Majithia.
Other than the donors’ list, the party is also not sharing in the public domain the total donations it has received from Punjab and its Punjabi NRI supporters in the past few years. “We are very busy with the elections in Punjab and Goa. But we will try to get that information and share it with the media,” said Chadha.
Another website run by an AAP supporter, which gave trends on donations to party, too has no new information to share since July this year. “That is not a website run by the party. We are not sure if it has authentic data or not,” said Chadha.
According to the information on this site available from January 2014 to July 6, the AAP collected over Rs 2.6 crore from Punjab. Another Rs 5.6 crore came in from the US, Rs 2.8 crore from Canada, Rs 2.7 crore from the UAE and a little over Rs 1 crore from the UK.