Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Foreign funding: MHA asks AAP for names of donors

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: February 1, 2014 4:17 am | Updated: February 1, 2014 9:17 am

Increasing the heat on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over allegations of receiving donations from foreigners, the Home Ministry has asked the party to provide names of all donors who contributed from abroad.

Sources said that in a recent letter, the ministry has gone into each specific detail because the disclosures under the general format yielded little information. It is learnt that the party had, in response to earlier communications from the government, only provided the amounts it gathered from foreign sources. The donors’ identities, sources said, was held back, which is why there is difficulty in proceeding with further investigations.

A few days ago, the government had informed the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a petition on the issue, that the AAP is silent on many issues raised by the Home Ministry over the past month.

Until now, the AAP has only made public the amounts it received as foreign donations, but many in the government believe several foreign nationals could also have made contributions, even though the party claimed it had mentioned on its website about only NRIs being allowed to make donations.

Both the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which is implemented by the Home Ministry, and the Representation of People’s Act, which is largely the domain of the Election Commission, make it clear that political parties cannot receive donations from foreigners. The only allowance is for non-resident Indians and those details have to be recorded and checked.

Given that the AAP had invited donations of small amounts through the internet, there are doubts over whether it could have maintained such scrutiny. The fact that the party has been reluctant to provide specifics, sources said, has raised more red flags in the Ministry, which provides the UPA government a chance to turn this into a political issue.

For its part, the AAP has claimed it collected Rs 19 crore as donations from 63,000 persons, including NRIs. However, it has denied receiving donation from any foreigners, making it clear in a statement that though NRIs holding foreign passports offered “substantial donations”, the party “scrupulously declined” them.

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