New Delhi: Kapil Sibal, one of the most vocal among the group of 23 Congress leaders who demanded a slew of changes in the party in August last year, was the biggest individual donor among its members in 2019-20.
Sibal, the senior advocate and former Union minister, contributed Rs 3 crore to the party fund in that financial year, according to the Congress’ submission of its list of donors to the Election Commission. This ‘contribution report’ is required to be submitted by political parties listing out donations above Rs 20,000. The Congress’ report, which was submitted before 5 January, was listed on the EC’s website Wednesday.
According to the report, other members of the party have made much smaller contributions — most of them between Rs 50,000 and Rs 54,000, and some just over a lakh. Former PM Manmohan Singh and former party chief Rahul Gandhi both donated Rs 54,000, while interim party president Sonia Gandhi donated Rs 50,000.
Overall, the Congress has declared to the EC that it received Rs 139 crore in 2019-20, with the biggest donation of Rs 31 crore coming from the Prudent Electoral Trust, which is backed primarily by Bharti Airtel. Business house ITC is another big contributor with Rs 13 crore, while its subsidiaries ITC Infotech and Russell Credit Limited gave Rs 4 crore and Rs 1.4 crore respectively.
However, the donations received by the Congress declined in 2019-20 compared to the previous year, when they totalled Rs 146 crore. The Lok Sabha elections took place in the first two months of financial year 2019-20, but the party had been preparing for the elections since long before that.
As mentioned above, Sibal was a part of the so-called ‘G23’ who had written to Sonia Gandhi demanding internal elections for the post of party president, as well as to the Congress Working Committee, among other changes. Since then, Sibal has hit out at the party multiple times for not acting on the senior leaders’ demands.
Five more members of this ‘G23’ are among the list of donors — Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Milind Deora and Raj Babbar.
Babbar, the former actor, has donated Rs 1.08 lakh, while Deora has donated Rs 1 lakh, and the other three have donated Rs 54,000 each, totalling Rs 3,70,000.
Many other senior leaders who weren’t part of the group of letter writers also donated — prominent among them are A.K. Antony, Ashok Gehlot, Kumari Selja and B.K. Hariprasad.
Notably, Jyotiraditya Scindia is also listed as one of the donors. Scindia, now a BJP Rajya Sabha MP, triggered a fall of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020, but had donated Rs 54,000 to the party in that financial year.
The other parties that have submitted their donation reports to the EC include Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). While the NCP received nearly Rs 60 crore, the BSP reported zero donations above Rs 20,000.