February 9th, 2016
Image Source: indianexpress
According to a report released by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) AAP is the only major political party which has declared details of donations received by it below Rs 20,000 during 2014-15. The party collected Rs 2.68 crore through 3326 donations between Re 1 and Rs 20,000, during 2014-15. There is a significance of the number Rs 20,000 as mentioned in the Representation of People Act
“Section 29C of the Representation of People Act, 1951 says that political parties are required to submit contribution details received in excess of Rs 20,000 from any person or a company if they wish to enjoy 100 per cent tax exemption.
“This section has been interpreted by political parties to include every single donation made above Rs 20,000 by any person at one time. This section, however, would also include in it multiple donations made by the same person, entity or company, aggregating Rs 20,000 or above during the year,” they added.
On the other hand, national parties like BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI(M) said they received only 7.5 per cent or Rs 65.40 crore from individual donations. The national parties received a total of Rs 870.15 crore in the form of donations during the two years.
The Take-Aways From The Report By ADR:
■ The political parties have found loopholes in the section and misused it to get donations from corporates. The corporate donors have naturally influenced policy making decisions. For example, if they take a donation of more than one Lakh, they can say that they have received the donations of 20,000 multiple times. This help them to get away without even violating the law.
■ Political parties have multiple sources of funding and thus accountability and transparency become all the more important. It is essential to have comprehensive and transparent accounting methods and systems which would reveal the true financial position of the parties.
■ They have been openly flouting the provisions of the Income Tax Act and are not filing Page 5 of 5 their annual income return which is a violation of the mandatory provisions laid down in law.
As the saying goes, You are transparent only when there is nothing to hide. Major political parties like to have their frequent pot shots at AAP, but they have shown little intention in taking some of the best practices they have implemented from funding of political parties. The non-disclosure of political parties in revealing their funding source reveals more than it hides. There is no doubt about corruption and black money being present in large as part of the non-disclosed donations. Political parties have said a lot of black money but have not walked the talk. Collusion & Quid Pro Quo seems to be evident in case of corporate funding of political parties.
The Logical Indian demands political parties to reveal their funding sources to put the debate to rest. No matter what each citizen’s political affiliations are, they should demand all political parties to be transparent in their funding. Judiciary will have to play a huge role as it always has in bringing about political reforms in the country. The bottom line is citizens will have to keep their “vigil” to keep alive a vibrant Democracy and to keep away corruption in all forms including funding of political parties.