Political funding

The Congress is facing a financial crisis ahead of 2019 General Elections: Bloomberg

The Opposition party has reportedly not sent funds to its offices in various states for five months.

The Congress is facing a financial crisis that could derail its plans of defeating the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 General Elections, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. The party’s coffers are drying up because of decline in contributions from industrialists.

In the last five months, the Congress leadership has not sent funds to its offices in various states, unidentified party officials said on condition of anonymity. The party has urged its cadre to increase contributions and directed party leaders to cut expenses.

“We do not have money,” Divya Spandana, who heads the Congress’ social media department, told Bloomberg. She said that unlike the BJP her party was not getting a lot of funds through the newly introduced electoral bonds. Under the new scheme, donors can buy electoral bonds 40 days a year from specified branches of State Bank of India and use it within two weeks to donate to a political party.

A report by non-governmental organisation Association for Democratic Reforms said in August that the BJP received Rs 705.81 crore of the Rs 956.77 crore that corporate houses donated to five political parties between 2012-’13 and 2015-’16. As many as 2,987 business houses donated to the saffron party. The Congress received just Rs 198.16 crore from 167 corporate donors in this period.

Jagdeep Chhokar, founder and trustee of the Association for Democratic Reforms, told Bloomberg that the Congress would face considerable hardships before the 2019 elections. “A party that does not have money will be at a disadvantage in Indian elections,” he said.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

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