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February 6, 2021

Congress Got Rs 139 Cr Donations In 2019-20; Sibal being highest individual donor gave Rs 3 Cr

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Compliance Law

Congress Got Rs 139 Cr Donations In 2019-20; Sibal being highest individual donor gave Rs 3 Cr

The Congress party received in total a sum of Rs 139 crores as donations during 2019-2020 revealed the contributions report published in the public domain by the Election Commission. As per provisions of the electoral laws, political parties have to report contributions above Rs 20,000 made by individuals, companies, electoral trusts, and organizations. The contribution document was submitted to the EC by Congress in December last year and was signed by the party’s interim Treasurer Pawan Bansal. The Congress’ report, which was submitted before 5 January, was listed on the EC’s website on Wednesday.

Who made significant donations?

  • The total donations of over Rs 20,000 amounted to Rs 139,01,62,000.
  • Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and former Union Minister was the highest individual donor, having given Rs 3 crores to the party fund while former PM Manmohan Singh contributed Rs 1,08,000.
  • According to the report, other members of the party have made much smaller contributions, most of them between Rs 50,000 and Rs 54,000, and some just over a lakh
  • Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul donated Rs 50,000 and Rs 54,000 respectively between April 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020.
  • Other Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, and Gulam Nabi Azad made donations of Rs 54,000.
  • Milind Deora donated Rs 1 lakh and Raj Babbar donated Rs 1.08 lakh to the party.
  • Overall, the Congress has declared to the EC that it received Rs 139 crore in 2019-20, with the biggest donation of Rs 31 crore coming from the Prudent Electoral Trust, which is backed primarily by Bharti Airtel.
  • Business house ITC is another big contributor with Rs 13 crore, while its subsidiaries ITC Infotech and Russell Credit Limited gave Rs 4 crore and Rs 1.4 crore respectively.
  • Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, A K Antony, Kumari Selja and Ahmed Patel, who passed away last year, were among those who made financial donations to the party.
  • Notably, Jyotiraditya Scindia is also listed as one of the donors. Scindia, now a BJP Rajya Sabha MP, triggered a fall of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020, but had donated Rs 54,000 to the party in that financial year.

Leadership crises faced by Congress in the past few months

  • It is also crucial to note that Kapil Sibal and Azad belonged to the group of 23 leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking a revamp of the party’s organizational structure.
  • Though Sonia Gandhi managed to quell the rebellion, voices against the leadership had risen due to poor performances in back-to-back elections. 
  • After the Bihar debacle, senior leaders like Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram came out in open and questioned the leadership of the party.
  • However, a group of Congress leaders once again pitched the name of Rahul Gandhi for the top post, with the Delhi Congress even passing a resolution for the same.
  • Dissenting voices had also risen in the Congress party a few months ago against the backdrop of the fight between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan.
  • Senior Congress leaders like Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad had then spoken openly against the Central leadership of the Gandhis.
  • However, interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was able to quash the rebellion and had assured party members of reviewing the raised demands. 
  • Congress has been in a leadership dilemma since Rahul Gandhi quit as party chief in the post-Lok Sabha 2019 debacle. This led to a barrage of resignations from various posts.
  • Amidst a lot of turmoil with Priyanka Vadra also being considered, Congress finally went back to their safe option and named Sonia Gandhi as its interim chief. Recently, her tenure was again extended.
  • While some loyalists have time and again implored Rahul Gandhi to take back the reins of the party, this has also been met with significant opposition.
  • Moreover, prominent Congress leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Khushbu Sundar have quit the party and joined BJP. 

It is however stated that the donations received by the Congress declined in 2019-20 compared to the previous year, when they totalled Rs 146 crore. The Lok Sabha elections took place in the first two months of financial year 2019-20, but the party had been preparing for the elections since long before that. The Congress party has decided to conduct the polls for its chief in May this year, as per sources, even as the party faces a leadership crisis.

The other parties that have submitted their donation reports to the EC include Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). While the NCP received nearly Rs 60 crore, the BSP reported zero donations above Rs 20,000.

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