After limiting fund collection from abroad, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may face a financial crunch for campaigning in four of the five poll-bound states it is contesting in the February-March elections.
Two days ago, the Election Commission increased the expenditure limit from Rs 28 lakh to Rs 40 lakh in candidates in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 28 lakh in Goa.
Earlier, the NRI wing of the party, which was considered very strong in Punjab, used to donate crores of rupees to the party’s coffers. During the 2017 Punjab elections, NRI Joban Randhawa was the Youth Deputy Convener of the NRI cell of the AAP.
As many as 30,000 NRI supporters had registered themselves with the party for campaigning and around 2,000 NRI supporters reached Punjab that year.
However, the support for the party in Canada, California, New York, New Jersey is not very aggressive this year, giving rise to a financial crunch.
Former co-ordinator of AAP’s Fund Raising and NRI Wing Hoshiarpur, Varinder Singh Parihar had accused party leaders of transferring Rs 200 crore to Rs 500 crore, collected from NRIs living in the US, from Punjab to Delhi. He alleged that party MP Bhagwant Mann had gone to Vancouver, while Sukhpal Singh Khaira went to the US and held meetings with NRIs in Seattle, California, New York, New Jersey and other places.
“Therefore, the party has millions of dollars donated by the NRIs stored and does not need to focus on overseas fund this year,” Parihar said.
Even after investigations into its foreign fund-collection were conducted by the Home Ministry under both the UPA and the BJP government, the AAP has received a clean chit on both occasions.
According to the party, despite having complete control over the Central Bureau of Investigation, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, Intelligence Bureau, and Delhi Police, the BJP government did not find anything wrong in the AAP funding process.
Delhi Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, said: “The AAP had launched a nationwide campaign called ‘Aap ka Daan, Rashtra ka Nirmaan’ a few years ago to solve its ongoing financial crisis. That’s how it will be contesting the Assembly elections. The party is accepting donations from our home-grown traders.”
Talking to IANS, AAP MP Sanjay Singh, said: “This year, we are focusing on issues, not funds. So, there is nothing to worry about.”
Highlighting the party’s plans to raise money through crowdfunding, AAP Rajya Sabha member Sushil Gupta told IANS: This time the party is working to collect funds by meeting traders in all states including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. Along with this, separate meetings will be organised to collect donations from the general public and party workers as well.”
“This time, the party is collecting less foreign donations. As far as election announcements are concerned, after the party comes to power, the government’s tax collection money will be used to fulfil the promises made to public. When AAP came to power in Delhi, there was a tax turnover of Rs 35,000 crore, which we increased to more than Rs 65,000 crore,” he added.