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Political Funding: Congress is crowd-sourcing funds to fight Lok Sabha elections, says Manish Tewari

Election funding in India: Congress will crowd-source funds for Lok Sabha elections.

Political funding in India: The Congress party has resorted to crowd-sourcing to collect enough funds to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha election which is being pegged as the costliest election in the history of the country. The party that received less than one fourth of the total funding received by the BJP in 2017-18 says that it will go the people and they will contribute to its election funding.

According to a report prepared by election watchdog – Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) – BJP has collected Rs 1,027 crore in 2017-18 against Rs 225.36 crore collected by the Congress.

It’s clear that it is difficult for the Congress to match the fund raising capacity of the ruling BJP to fight the elections that are becoming increasingly expensive.

“Well, we crowd-source our funding. Therefore we go to the people and it is the people who contribute towards the election process, ” said Manish Tewari, senior Congress leader and former union minister for information and broadcasting in Manmohan Singh government.

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In fact, the ruling BJP also bagged almost 95% of the total electoral bonds issued in March last year. BJP received electoral bonds worth Rs 210 crore as against the bonds worth Rs 5 crore received by the Congress.

The NDA government launched electoral bonds in 2017-18 to bring transparency in political funding. There are no reliable estimates for election funding in the country as most of the political donations have been opaque in nature. The historically opaque political funding is considered one of the biggest reason behind political corruption.

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Manish Tewari, who was a member in the Lok Sabha from Ludhiana, Punjab, says availability of more funds with political parties does not determine the election outcome. He says that it’s a flawed notion that a ruling party has advantage in elections because of availability of more funds with it.

“If money was the only criteria for winning elections then no ruling party would ever lose an election,” Manish Tewari told Financial Express Online.

However, the gap between the ruling BJP and other political parties in terms of receiving political funds is telling. It also indicates that which party or alliance is being perceived capable of winning the election by the industry and businesses.

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According to the data collected by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in terms of donations above Rs 20,000, BJP in 2017-18 received more funding than the cumulative funding received by six other national parties – Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPM and Trinamool Congress.

While BJP collected Rs 437.04 crore in donations above Rs 20,000, the Congress got Rs 26.65 crore, NCP Rs 2.08 crore, CPM Rs 2.75 crore, CPI Rs 1.14 crore and Trinamool Congress Rs 20 lakhs. Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party declared receiving no donation that was above Rs 20,000.

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Source: Financial Express