Source: 
Author: 
Date: 
08.12.2014
City: 
Kolkata

KOLKATA: If you think that Kolkata's biggest individual political donation has been made to Trinamool Congress or CPM, think twice. The donation was made to Samajwadi Party.

According to the now-mandatory contribution reports filed in the Election Commission, Salt Lake resident Aditi Sen's contribution to Samajwadi Party — Rs 1.5 crore — appears to be the single largest individual donation made to a political party from Kolkata in 2013-14.

Aditi, according to sources, is the wife of Sudip Ranjan Sen, who was appointed by the Akhilesh Yadav government as the chairman of UP Tourism Development Corporation. Sudip had also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Raigunj parliamentary constituency failing to get a toehold in the three-cornered fight between CPM's Md Selim, Congress's Deepa Das Munshi and Trinamool Congress's Pabitra Ranjan Das Munshi.

But, even before that, Sudip had made headlines. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-political organization aiming at electoral reforms, had claimed in a report that of the 16 millionaires fighting the 2014 LS polls from Bengal, Sudip — with assets in excess of Rs 64 crore — leads the pack.

Sudip has a rich musical lineage and he himself is a Nazrul Geeti singer. Grandson of Manoranjan Sen, Sudip, and his wife Aditi, are still associated with Basanti Bidya Bithi, a music school that was founded by his grandfather. This school, incidentally, had witnessed performances by Kazi Nazrul Islam, Hemanta Mukherjee and Manna Dey, sources said. Going by the 2012-13 returns, Sudip and Aditi had topped the list of individual donors for Samajwadi Party. Apart from them, another Kolkata resident, Rupesh Kumar Singh, has donated Rs 50,000 to the party, according to the reports filed to EC.

Between April 1, 2013 and October 2, 2013, Aditi has issued six cheques — each of Rs 25,00,000 — to Samajwadi Party from her Bank of India's Bangalore account totalling Rs 1.5 crore.

Sudip wasn't available for comment. "They are not only our party supporters but also members of our national committee. They have been among our biggest supporters and Sudip had even contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a party ticket," the party's Rajya Sabha MP and former state fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda told ToI.

A shade lesser than this was paid by M/s Trinetra Consultant Private Limited to Trinamool Congress. According to the report filed by Trinamool Congress national secretary Mukul Roy to EC on September 25, this British India Street firm donated Rs 1.4 crore to the party. This is Trinamool Congress's only external donation in excess of Rs 20,000 (this needs to be filed to claim IT deductions).

Former CPM MP Hannan Mollah is another curious case. Mollah has donated to his party Rs 2.4 lakh from his earnings. "CPM, unlike other parties, is run by contributions of its million-odd party members. MPs and MLAs, or any office bearer for the matter, need to contribute a certain amount of money as donations to the party. I did my bit as a sitting and seven-time MP. If you see the list, you will get names of all the MPs and office bearers," Mollah said.

A number of political parties recently submitted their annual reports of donations of over Rs 20,000 received by them, as stipulated under Section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to the Election Commission. This enables recognized political parties to get tax exemptions on this income. BJP, TRS, JD(U), JD(S), BJD, YSRCP, INLD, LJP, National Conference and PDP did not furnish the information. The last date to file the report was November 30. The EC regulates and scrutinizes these contribution reports of parties under subsection (3) and (4) of section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

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