ne contributions have plunged since Jan 17
SRUTHIJITH KK & RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI , ET
The raucous street politics of Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti and Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna that turned the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi into a warzone might be costing Aam Aadmi Party dearly. Online donations to the fledgling party, the financial lifeline that keeps its political prospects on track, have dropped perceptibly since January 17, when news emerged that Bharti and his supporters had raided residences of African nationals in the Khirki Extension neighbourhood during the midnight of January 15. On each of the six days starting January 17, the party has received less money in donations than any other day since December 12, when AAP reopened donations. In November, the party had ceased accepting donations, saying it had collected the . 20 crore that it needed to contest the Delhi elections. The number of donations on each of the past six days has also been less than any other day since December 12. The trend during the past week will worry Kejriwal, who plans to field AAP candidates from 400 seats across the country in general elections due in May.Supporters Donated Enthusiastically
Assuming a low expenditure of Rs25 lakh per constituency (the Election Commission limits expenditure by Lok Sabha candidates to . 16-40 lakh) and 150 days to go for the elections, AAP needs to collect at least . 66 lakh every day. In the past six days, the highest amount it has received is . 3.04 lakh.
AAP had said it plans to spend about . 1 crore per constituency. With that kind of expenditure, the funding gap grows even bigger.
When it reopened donations on December 12, to prepare for Lok Sabha elections, supporters donated enthusiastically. When Kejriwal took oath as Delhi chief minister, donations to the party started pouring in. On December 28, the day the party formed the government, its website received . 21 lakh in donations. On the first three days of 2014, supporters contributed more than . 40 lakh each day. On January 2, the party was just . 5,000 short of clocking . 50 lakh in donations. More than 2,500 people made donations that day alone.
From those promising highs, the donation counter is now down to a trickle. On January 17, the day when news of Bharti’s activism in Khirki Extension on the midnight of January 15 hit the newspapers, the party collected just . 1.6 lakh, down from . 4.45 lakh the previous day. Since then, as the party and Kejriwal came out on to the streets raising various demands and evoking imagery of protests in the days before the anti-corruption movement became a political party, donations have remained low. The party and its leaders came in for criticism from various quarters during this time.
Pankaj Gupta, the AAP leader responsible for the party’s finances, said he didn’t see a problem. “There have been days in the past when our donations came down to . 1-2 lakh. This is nothing unusual and by no means a reflection of any change in our support base. Moreover, we have been involved in strengthening our backroom donation units and that hasn’t given us the time to seek donation actively. The decline could be on account of that,” he said.
Online donations only portray part of the picture. It is unclear how the party updates the donations received offline, via cheques and other means. The data for this analysis was sourced from Aaptrends.com, an independent website run by AAP member Arijit Upadhyay. His website scrapes the data from the official AAP website. ET has not independently verified the data provided by Upadhyay, a former journalist and statistician who said he is now working with AAP’s central IT cell.
Upadhyay said the median donations during the round of fund-raising till November was about Rs2.5 lakh. In the round of fund-raising since December 12, he said, it has been higher, at Rs4.5 lakh. He said he calculated the median (the middle value of a set of numbers) after removing extreme values from the set. Shortcomings in the party’s presumed target of Rs66 lakh per day can obviously be met by large donations from corporations or wealthy individuals. Lawyer Shanti Bhushan, for instance, donated Rs1 crore on December 13.
The states that account for the most donations are Uttar Pradesh (29.4%), Maharashtra (16.1%), Delhi (14.7%) and Karnataka (10.6%).
- Why I’m not a part of #AAP – Sandeep Pandey (kractivist.org)