Monetary resources are very important for parties to win elections in any democracy. The major funding of a political party comes from individuals and corporate organizations who pledge their alliance in support of the party. The donation any political party receives has a positive correlation with its electoral prospects in the upcoming elections. The two big players in these elections, Congress and BJP, have displayed a huge gap in their election funding, with Congress seeming to depend more on the ‘illegitimate sources of funding’.
The audit report is out which shows that Congress has just raised a meagre figure of Rs 199 crores as its election funding, as opposed to BJP’s Rs 1027 crore in the year 2017-18. The figure indicates that the Grand Old Party has raised only 1/5th of the funds in comparison to the amount BJP has raised.
At the forefront among the list of donors are the corporate organizations, which support the party that is more pro-market on the ideological spectrum. Moreover, the corporate houses bid on the parties which are more likely to win elections in order to have more leverage in the upcoming government. A higher corporate donation to any party thereby suggests the higher winning prospects of the party. That said, BJP has bagged the unwavering support of the corporate sector. If the fact isn’t visible to some, even after the unprecedented industrial and corporate growth in the past 5 years with initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, and emphasis on entrepreneurship and start-ups; the latest audit report surely is a definite proof. A cursory glance at the electoral trusts, which are essentially corporate donations have indicated that BJP raised Rs 167 crores while Congress has declared about Rs 4 crores in the given year.
Moreover, the electoral bonds, a transparent method of political funding as introduced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the 2017 budget displays the staggering gap between the ruling party and the opposition. BJP has bagged 94.5% of the bonds which amounts to Rs 210 crores, out of a total of Rs 220 crores worth of total bonds issued in March 2018. Out of the leftover amount, Congress has only managed to bag a measly Rs 5 crore.
These statistics display the huge funding gap between the parties, which is a record high in over 14 years. In 2005-06, the then ruling Congress had received 3.25 times more funds than the BJP. This gap began to close in 2011-12 when people began to lose trust in the Grand Old Party as it was hit by a series of scams. By 2013-14, the BJP raised more than Congress by being successful in getting funds amounting to Rs 673.82 crores against Rs 598.06 crores by the ruling Congress. In the year 2016-17, the gap record earlier set by Congress was breached when BJP managed to receive 4.5 times more funds than the Congress; and now the gap has further widened to 5.1 times the funds received by Congress.
With such a meagre funding, it is almost impossible for a political party to contest national elections. The expenditure involved is momentous. Nevertheless, Congress was unperturbed as they were expecting funding from illegitimate sources. Congress was counting on the black money machinery of the party funding as is evident from the huge amounts of cash recovered in recent raids.
The income tax department on Sunday had conducted raids and searches across 52 locations, in Delhi, Indore, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Goa, linked to close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. The searches were carried out after information was received of tax evasion and Hawala transactions. The department recovered undisclosed cash amounting to Rs 10-14 crores, money which is suspected of being used as an inducement in political campaigns to bribe voters in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The cash counting is still going on, so the figure is not final yet. Moreover, documents related to undisclosed transactions worth Rs 281 crores have also been recovered which are being scrutinized. Over and above everything, costly liquor brand bottles and firearms have also been recovered from some premises during the raid.
Rendered defenseless, a Congress leader in MP accused the BJP-led central government of targeting opposition leaders for “political vendetta”.
BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said, “Black money worth crores was recovered during the Income Tax Department’s raid at the house of the private secretary of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. This has made one thing clear that those who are thieves have a complaint against the watchman.”
Congress’ plan to use black money in the election campaigning has gone for a spin. The incessant I-T raids and recovery of the illicit money and documents, are threatening to derail the entire campaign of Congress. Moreover, these raids, along with directly impacting the Lok sabha elections, may have repercussions on the newly formed Madhya Pradesh government of the Congress. With Kamal Nath becoming the chief minister on slippery grounds, claiming the throne by competing with Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh; a lot of incoherencies have arisen within the party. Now, with Kamal Nath blocking the Tax department’s raid, with Scindia and Singh strangely silent, rumours have arisen, pointing towards a theory of these raids being an internal conspiracy to undermine the Kamal Nath government.
Not only are these I-T raids weakening the party financially, thereby having a major impact on the election race of the Congress, one in which they are anyway lagging behind; but have also led to a dangerous blame game within the party itself. The alarmingly low figures of election funding in the audit report indicate the opposing stance of the voters towards Congress. Moreover, with the illegitimate money being seized, all sides have closed in on the grand old party.