Economic Time, November 15, 2018
With the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on the horizon, regional political parties have begun building their war chests and the first figures on money flow for 2017-18 have started coming in.
So far, Stalin-led DMK leads with Rs 35 crore raised, according to the annual audited accounts and income tax returns of various regional political parties for 2017-18 that ET has reviewed. Parties in poll-bound Telangana are next, with Telangana Rashtra Samithi collecting Rs 27.7 crore and Telugu Desam Party at Rs 19 crore. Samajwadi Party, the richest in 2016-17, is yet to declare its funding. Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal has sprung a surprise, having raised Rs 14 crore, a more than sevenfold increase from Rs 1.88 crore a year earlier.
Telangana, which goes to the polls on December 7, is proving to be a big money election, with cash seizures and party spending on the rise. Over Rs 50 crore had been seized in the state as of November 1, which accounts for more than 70% of the almost Rs 70 crore confiscated in all the five poll-bound states. Party spending is the other indicator. Each of the major parties in the fray in the state has already spent upwards of Rs 12 crore, ET’s review of their tax returns showed. This amount is only expected to rise. TRS, which declared receipts of Rs 27.2 crore in its 2017-18 annual audit report to the Election Commission of India, has spent Rs 12 crore, mostly on poll expenses. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP has spent Rs 16 crore.
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party, led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, is not too far behind – it has declared income of Rs 14 crore and has spent more than what it got – Rs 16 crore.
A key party, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, is yet to declare its funding but is sitting on considerable amount of unspent money from the past year. The AIMIM received Rs 7 crore in 2016-17 and spent only Rs 5 lakh of that amount. The final electoral funding and expenditure of the political parties may grow manifold as they often spend much more than what they raise in a year. TRS, while declaring it received Rs 3.7 crore in 2016-17, had gone on to spend Rs 64.9 crore. TDP declared Rs 72 crore received and spent Rs 24 crore.
PAN-INDIA FUND DRIVE
Outside Telangana, all regional parties are preparing for 2019. DMK, which raised Rs 35 crore, has spent Rs 27 crore already. In 2016-17, the party had raised Rs 3 crore and went on to spend Rs 85 crore. JDS raised Rs 8 crore, Nitish Kumar’s JDU Rs 12 crore and Rashtriya Lok Dal Rs 2 crore. Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab raised Rs 3.9 crore and has spent Rs 14.9 crore.
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