Donations-Advantage BJP for LS polls

Nitya Chakraborty

The latest report of the election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) confirms only which was already known. BJP has emerged as the darling of the Indian corporate and the ruling Party has beaten hollow its rival the Congress Party in terms of getting donations from the corporates. Corporate houses donated a total of Rs. 956.77 crore to the national parties between 2012-13 and 2015-16 - BJP getting the maximum of Rs. 705.61 crore while the Congress got Rs. 196.16 crore. Thus the BJP got nearly four times of the Congress during these four years. Significantly, out of these four years, the Congress led UPA ruled in 2012-13 and 2013-14 while the BJP rules in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The BJP was initially a Party of the traders and till late eighties, the BJP’s coffers were not substantial as only a few corporates took interest in the BJP then and the Congress was the darling of the Indian business houses since the beginning of independence. Though the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru did not like hobnobbing with the Indian industrialists, the Congress Party’s treasurer always depended on the Indian big houses for donations. The Birlas were closest to the Congress Party and they adopted a large number of the Congress MPs and took care of their election expenses. Other prominent industry people also gave substantial donations to the Congress Party and it was a norm that the concerned industries will be given quid pro quo facilities.
After the coming of BJP to power in May 2014 under Narendra Modi, the Congress was nowhere near BJP in terms of resources. The industry people who used to give funds liberally to the Congress during its rule, started giving only token amount to the GOP and bulk amount to the BJP. Further Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a set of industry leaders as his admirers as against the Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi who are not popular with the industry leaders the way Modi and Amit Shah are. The Congress leaders at the high command level have to labour a lot to persuade the corporates to give donations- a complete reversal from the position during the Congress reign when the corporate bosses vied with one another in filling the coffers of the Congress Party.
BJP has got some advantages in terms of resources raising which the Congress has lost now. The BJP is now ruling most of the states while the Congress is ruling in a much lesser number of states. Two major states of the Congress rule are Karnataka and Punjab. In recent state assembly elections, the Congress has lost in a big way in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. The BJP has got huge social media network and its supporters in a systematic manner, have created a buzz that the Party is returning to power in 2019 with massive majority. The corporate media also through its surveys are projecting a situation where the opposition including the Congress will be no match to BJP in the electoral battle. This political climate has further alienated the industry donors from the Congress. Nobody, especially the businessmen want to be identified with losers. The Congress is not in a position to give any facilities to the industry people. The BJP is now all pervading in terms of giving facilities. The businessmen will naturally be more seen cultivating the BJP leaders and ministers. The Congress’s share of corporate donations will further dwindle while the BJP coffers will have phenomenal growth.
The only way the Congress can raise its resources again in a substantial manner is to strengthen its organization and lead the opposition against the Modi government from the front. The Party has to go back to the people with a new look, fresh appeal and energized leadership. The Party has forgotten the habit of raising small amount from common people and its supporters for party fund. The small donations derive from the masses will help the Party to connect to the masses and simultaneously help in raising funds. Only when the Party gets back its mojo and emerges as a viable alternative as the leader of the anti-BJP opposition, the funds will automatically start coming. The corporates which deserted the Congress, will give a relook at the ground political reality and the latest balance of forces. If they are convinced that the Congress is in a fighting mood and in a position to give the BJP a run for its money, they will start increasing their share of donations to the GOP. The BJP share will still remain much more but the Congress share will increase from the earlier meagre amount. In any case, the Congress will never be able to match BJP in terms of total resources as it is in no position to compete with BJP’s existing strength in raising resources from overseas.
That way, the BJP- flush with funds is fully battle ready for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Party has announced its Mission 350 for the 2019 poll. For every Lok Sabha seat to be contested by the BJP, funds allotted will be huge. The funds from the overseas from the saffron organizations will be adequate to take care of the election expenses. The domestic resources will just be extra. The opposition and the Congress can combat such BJP extravaganza only by going to the people and rallying them against the BJP and its policies at base level in every nook and corner of the country. Only by mobilizing the masses in millions, the opposition including the Congress can take on the cash rich BJP in the coming Lok Sabha poll battle. (IPA)

Monday, 4 September, 2017