The AAP declared a collection of Rs 51.83 crore and listed Rs 17.79 crore as election expenses.  (File photo)

The AAP stands after the Samajwadi Party (SP) among regional parties to collect funds during Lok Sabha and assembly elections held between 2004 and 2015, a poll expense analysis released by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has said.

The survey, which details the fund collected and expenditure incurred by regional parties, said that SP, Aam Aadmi Party, Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Odisha and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab together collected Rs 267.14 crore, 62% of the total funds declared by all the regional parties, during Lok Sabha polls.

The survey said Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP, which has its main base in Uttar Pradesh, topped the chart by collecting Rs. 118 crore and spending Rs. 90.9 crore in the three Lok Sabha elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

The AAP that contested its first Lok Sabha elections in 2014 collected funds worth Rs. 51.83 crore and spent Rs.17.79 crore.

AIADMK collected Rs. 37.66 crore and stood second highest in expenditure with Rs. 39.31 crore, while BJD collected Rs. 35.76 crore and spent Rs.16.03 crore and SAD collected Rs. 23.89 crore and incurred an expenditure of Rs. 28.67 crore.

These five parties have declared collecting a total of Rs. 267.14 crore which forms 62% of the total funds declared by all the regional parties. An amount of Rs. 129.22 crore (48%) was collected in cash and Rs. 137.72 crore by cheque, said the report.

It said among all the regional parties which have declared their expenditure during assembly elections held between 2004 and 2015, the top five parties include SP, AAP, SAD, Shiv Sena and the Trinamool Congress.

The data shows the parties collected Rs 2,107.80 crore during 71 state assembly elections in this period.

“In assembly elections too, SP declared collecting a total of Rs.186.8 crore, while AAP comes a distant second with Rs. 38.54 crore. SP declared incurring the maximum expenditure of Rs. 96.54 crore during the assembly elections followed by Shiv Sena with Rs. 29.60 crore,” the report added.

All the five parties have declared a total of Rs. 291.92 crore as funds collected of which Rs. 112.87 crores was in cash and Rs 179.02 crore by cheque. This forms 82% of the total funds declared by all the regional parties.

ADR said the analysis is based on statements submitted by the national and regional parties to the Election Commission of India. These statements contain information of funds collected and spent between announcement and completion of elections.

Cash and cheque

The grand total of funds collected by all national and regional parties during assembly elections (2004-2015) and three Lok Sabha elections is Rs. 5,323.41 crore, while the total expenditure is Rs. 5,193.86 crore.

Cash collections accounted for a whopping 63% of total funds or over Rs 2,100 crore garnered by these regional parties during all state assembly polls between 2004 and 2015. The fund collection through cash was, however, relatively lower at 44% or over Rs 1,000 crore during the three Lok Sabha elections held during this period.

The data shows the parties collected Rs 2,107.80 crore during 71 state assembly elections in this period.

During the Lok Sabha elections held in 2004, 2009 and 2014, cheque payments accounted for the highest collection at 55% (nearly Rs 1,300 crore), while cash accounted for Rs 1039.06 crore.

In the case of state polls, funds collected through cheque payments was Rs 1,244.86 crore between 2004 and 2015. The study did not take into account the recent polls in five states.

In terms of expenditure, the three Lok Sabha polls saw 83% of spending, or Rs 2,044.67 crores, through cheque while this percentage was 65 during assembly polls.

Among national parties, Congress stands first in the collection of funds and total expenditure in assembly elections at Rs. 1,468.49 crore and Rs. 1,209.84 crore respectively while BJP stands second with Rs. 1,128.15 crore and Rs. 1,025.54 respectively.

In Lok Sabha elections, BJP stands first in funds collection at Rs. 855.22 crore and Congress second with Rs. 790.55 crore. However, in expenditure, Congress surpassed BJP by spending Rs. 1,008.02 crore against its Rs. 914.74 crore.

‘India least transparent’

According to the ECI guidelines, parties should not make any expenditure above Rs 20,000 in cash but there is no provision in the expenditure format for the parties to declare expenses below or above Rs 20,000, ADR said.

“India is the least transparent country when it comes to funding of political parties,” IIM Bangalore’s Trilochan Sastry, a founder member of ADR, said at a press conference to release the survey results.

“Hence, it appears that the parties are taking advantage of the opacity in the expenditure statements to collect and spend funds in cash,” the survey said.

It also consists a separate list of ‘defaulters’, listing parties who did not submit their expenditure statements between 2011-15. Among the national parties, statements of Nationalist Congress Party and CPI are not available for two assembly elections held between 2011 and 2015.

“The availability of election expenditure statements of regional parties is equally worrisome where the statements of JD(U) is unavailable for 15 assembly elections while that of SP is unavailable for 11 assembly elections,” it said.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

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