The Times of India

JAIPUR: Politics in Rajasthan is funded more by donations from outside the state rather than from within. 

An analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Rajasthan Election Watch of the income, expenditure and donations received by major political parties of Rajasthan through a study of documents filed by the parties with their I-T returns has brought to the fore that while parties only received a sum of Rs 1.13 crore from donors based in Rajasthan during the financial year 2012-13, donations of over Rs 20,000 during the same period itself amounts to Rs 99.14 crore. 

The total amount of donations of above Rs 20,000 received by the parties in the state from all over the country was calculated from the donations' report submitted to the Election Commission annually. 

The reports says that of a total of 3,777 donors contributing above Rs 20,000 to the various political parties in the state, Congress got Rs 11.72 crore from 703 donors, BJP bagged Rs 83.19 crore from 2,941 donors, the NCL made Rs 0.05 crore from two donors, CPI Rs 0.37 crore from 23 donors and CPM Rs 3.81 crore from 108 donors. In its declaration, BSP, howewer, says that it received no donations above Rs 20,000 during 2012-13 in the state. 

Donations from within the state were made by just 28 donors who chipped in a sum of Rs 1.13 crore. A major sum of this donation, pegged at Rs 61 lakh, went to Congress from 25 donors while the BJP received Rs 52 lakh from two donors. There was just one donor from the state who gave Rs 20,525 to CPI. NCP, CPM, SP, RLD, IUML and JDS received no donations from Rajasthan. 

Throwing in majorly into the kitty of Congress and BJP through voluntary donations was the National Engineering Industries Limited with its office on the Khatipura road. It doled out Rs 50 lakh to each party during 2012-13. 

The reports says that the total income of parties based in Rajasthan during 2012-13 stood at Rs 991.21 crore with Congress declaring a highest total income of Rs 425.69 crore, followed by BJP at Rs 324.16 crore. SP earned Rs 146 crore, BSP Rs 87.63 crore, NCP Rs 26.56 crore, CPI Rs 1.07 crore, CPM Rs 126.09 crore and RLD Rs 3 crore. 

It adds that while the major sources of Congress' income (Rs 312.24 crore) was from collection through issue of coupons or sale of publication, for BJP it was voluntary contributions (Rs 271.529). BSP earned Rs 77 crore by sale of land and buildings in Rajasthan and NCL made Rs 23.3 crore by sale of forms. Voluntary contributions, donations and membership fee comprise sources of income for the other parties in the state. 

However, having analyzed various documents, the report raises concerns on political parties collecting funds through issue of coupons in lieu of receipts and recommends a strict regulatory mechanism wherein political parties should report the correct quantum and the source of donations received. 

"Apart from collecting donations or voluntary contributions, it is seen from the I-T returns of political parties that a few parties are collecting funds by issuing coupons in lieu of receipts to donors for cash contributions. Being cash donations, it is difficult to establish the identity of the donor. It is possible that a lot of cash donations received, remain unaccounted for in the books of accounts as only those amounts would be recorded for which a receipt has been issued," it says. 

Concerns such as this have been raised by the ADR in its earlier reports too with the association expressing cautions on large sources of the income of political parties remaining unknown and recommending that political parties be therefore be brought under the RTI Act.

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