No cash crunch for AAP, party collects Rs 1.3 crore at fundraiser

The Aam Aadmi Party raised Rs 1.13 crore at a dinner with city traders on Saturday, seeing almost a six-fold jump in donations from 2014 when the trade wing first held such an event.

The increase in donations — the 2014 dinner contributions amounted to Rs 20 lakh — and that, too, in times of demonetisation was an indication of AAP’s growing popularity among traders, the traditional support base of the BJP, party leaders said.

Looking to expand its reach, the Delhi’s ruling party has stepped up fund collection as it makes assembly poll debut in Punjab and Goa. Both the states vote on February 4.

“We managed to raise Rs 1.13 crore from the traders. The donations varied from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2 lakh,” AAP’s trade wing convener Brijesh Goyal said.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was the chief guest at the fundraiser attended by industry minister Satyendra Jain, AAP legislators and around 450 traders, party sources said.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is out of Delhi, busy campaigning in Punjab and Goa.

On offer was a “simple” vegetarian fare and there were no tickets unlike the 2014 event, held in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, where a diner paid at least Rs 20,000.

“Though only those who pledged support and donated some amount were allowed in the dinner, there was no lower cap on the amount,” Goyal said, adding none of the participants came from big corporate houses.

Around 85% of the donations were in cheques, while the rest was in cash which would be deposited in the party’s bank account, Goyal said.

He said Saturday’s dinner, the fourth such fundraiser hosted by the trade wing, was the most successful. Two such dinners organised ahead of the 2015 assembly polls fetched Rs 50 lakh and Rs 60 lakh.

AAP recently courted controversy over alleged discrepancies in the donations declared to the election commission. It admitted to “inadvertent errors” in its declaration to the income-tax department.

The party maintains that 92% of its funds are channelled though banks, leaving little scope for hiding any information.

AAP has challenged rivals the BJP and the Congress to make public their sources of funds. It has also accused the BJP of receiving hefty donations from corporates and doing their bidding.

Opposing demonetisation, AAP alleged that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were inconveniencing the general public to help businesses houses. It also claimed that a handful of industrialists knew of the currency recall plan before it was announced on November 8.

Born out of an anti-corruption campaign, AAP used to publish lists of donors and donations on its website. It discontinued the practice a few months ago, saying the Modi government was “victimising” the donors through investigative agencies.

Party funding is a contentious issue, as most outfits do not share details of donors or donations. Speaking at a BJP event on Saturday, the Prime Minister called for transparency in political funding to fight corruption.

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