The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared having received Rs 437 crore in donations above Rs 20,000 in 2017-18.

Election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms on Wednesday released a report on donations above Rs 20,000 received by national political parties for 2017-18. The report is based on income declared by the parties in their reports filed with the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared having received Rs 437 crore in donations above Rs 20,000 in 2017-18. This is over 13 times more than the combined amount received in similar donations by other national parties, including the Congress.

The Congress received just Rs 27 crore in such donations in 2017-18. While the BJP used to get more money than the Congress in donations above Rs 20,000 even when it was not in power, its gap vis-à-vis the Congress reached its highest level in 2017-18. The comparable figures were Rs 532 crore and Rs 42 crore in such donations in 2016-17. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has not declared any amount in such donations. To be sure, this is not a new practice for the BSP. See Chart 1: Donations above Rs 20,000 to BJP, Congress and Others from 2014-15

The total value of donations above Rs 20,000 to national political parties was Rs 470 crore in 2017-18. Rs 422 crore out this came from corporate donations, while the rest was given in individual donations, the report said.

Political parties also have to file their income and expenditure statements with the ECI. The BJP’s filings show that it spent Rs 758 crore in 2017-18. The Congress is yet to file this information for 2017-18. To be sure, political parties earn more than what they receive in donations above Rs 20,000. For example, the BJP’s total income in 2017-18, according to its filing with the ECI, was Rs 1,027 crore, with 96% of this amount coming from voluntary contributions, which include the Rs 437 crore received in donations above Rs 20,000. The BJP also listed an income of Rs 210 crore from electoral bonds in 2017-18.

Congress’s filings with the ECI for 2016-17 show that the party’s fund situation is much better than what is seen in donations above Rs 20,000. While the Congress received only Rs 42 crore in donations above Rs 20,000, its total income in that year was Rs 225 crore. Rs 115 crore of this money came from collections by issuing coupons.

Political funding laws in India do not require disclosure of a donor’s identity for donations below Rs 20,000.

BJP spokesperson Gopal Agarwal said the surge in donations received by the party in the last two years was because the party now encourages contributions to be made either online or through cheques. “We have opened bank accounts and have streamlined the process of donation collection to ensure transparency. Since we are also a popular party with a large membership our collection is growing annually,” Aggarwal said. “As for the small number of donations where the PAN details are not mentioned, the party will look into the issue and take action.”

Manish Tiwari, senior spokesperson for the Congress said, “ Well, this indicates that common people are still in support of the Congress and donating their hard earned money for our party, while the suit-boot wallahs, the fat cats are in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi because all his policies are being tailored to suit their interests.”

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