While the BJP's financial health is growing in a big away after coming to power at the Centre and in most of the states, the main opposition party, the Congress, is practically facing steep fall in its revenues.
According to the analysis conducted by watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), on the basis of income and expenditure, as submitted by respective political parties to Election Commission of India (ECI), the BJP has recorded an increase of 80 per cent in its income during 2016-17, compared to its income of the previous year. 

During the same period, the Congress witnessed a fall of 14 per cent in its income. As per this analysis, the annual income of the BJP surged by Rs. 571 crore in 2015-16 to Rs. 1,034 crore in the financial year 2016-17. More than Rs. 606 crore, or nearly 59 per cent, of the total expenditure incurred by the BJP was spent on election-related activities and propaganda. BJP reported a total expenditure of Rs. 710.05 crore in 2016-17; almost 96 per cent of BJP's income, or Rs. 997.12 crore, came through voluntary donations and grants. 

However, the annual income of the Congress dropped from Rs.261.56 crore in 2015-16 to Rs. 225.36 crore in financial year 2016-17. It shows that almost Rs. 150 crore was spent on election-related activities, with another Rs115.65 crore of expenses incurred on administrative and general costs. On the other hand, the report states that Congress failed to meet its funding needs from the income it generated in 2016-17, reporting an expenditure of Rs. 321.61 crore against an income of Rs. 225.36 crore. 

Seven national parties, the BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPM, CPI and AITC have declared total income of Rs. 1,559.17 crore, collected from all over India. They also declared total expenditure of Rs. 1,228.26 crore. All national parties have collected maximum 74.98 per cent (Rs. 1,169.07 crore) income from voluntary contributions. 

Recalling that the Supreme Court gave a judgment on September 13, 2013 declaring that no part of a candidate's affidavit should be left blank, ADR suggested that along the same lines, ECI should impose rules that no part of the Form 24A submitted by political parties providing details of donations above Rs. 20,000 should be left blank. 

It also said that full details of all donors should be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI. Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the US and Japan. In none of these countries is it possible for 75 per cent of the source of funds to be unknown. According to the Finance Bill, 2017, Section 13A of the IT Act was amended to state that tax exemption will be given to registered political parties "Provided also that such political party furnishes a return of income for the previous year in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (4B) of section 139 on or before the due date under that section." 

Thus, ADR said that any party which does not submit its IT returns on or before the due date, their income should not be tax-exempted and defaulting parties should be derecognized. Those parties not following the ICAI guidelines for auditing of reports should be scrutinized by the IT department. The National political parties must provide all information on their finances under the Right to Information Act. This will only strengthen political parties, elections and democracy, ADR added.

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