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Congress's assets soar, is India's richest party

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    Congress s assets soar, is India s richest party Pradeep Thakur, TNN, Mar 27, 2010, 12.33am IST NEW DELHI: Being in power pays. Congress s declared assets of
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      Congress's assets soar, is India's richest party

      Pradeep Thakur, TNN, Mar 27, 2010, 12.33am IST

      NEW DELHI: Being in power pays. Congress's declared assets of Rs 340 crore for 2007-08, with an opening balance of Rs 271 crore, puts the party way ahead of rival BJP and regional powerhouses like Samajwadi Party, BSP and CPM. Even for the assessed year, BJP lagged Congress by more than Rs 100 crore.

      According to income tax returns of political parties for the assessment year 2008-09 - for which an expenditure-income account of 2007-08 is considered - Congress spent more than Rs 110 crore on elections, meetings and publicity. Its expenses under just these three heads are more than the total income generated by smaller parties. CPM showed Rs 69 crore as income while BSP and SP showed Rs 79 crore and Rs 22 crore. BJP's earnings at Rs 120 crore were only slightly higher.

      Clearly, being in power since 2004 has seen the Congress coffers swell. Its total assets were valued at Rs 65 crore in 2002, rose to Rs 136 crore in 2004, to Rs 229 crore in 2006, Rs 271 crore in 2007 and touched Rs 340 crore in 2008. Also, while Congress made nearly Rs 200 crore just from sale of coupons and donations in 2007-08, BJP earned Rs 120 crore from donations and membership fees.

      The figures shown by parties are believed to be a fraction of actual expenses, but serve to reflect a trend. IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus and national coordinator of Association of Democratic Reforms Anil Bairwal said there was a huge gap between bottomlines of parties and expenditure incurred during polls.

      Congress's income swelled to nearly Rs 500 crore, taking into account its Rs 270 crore opening balance. BJP's opening balance was Rs 104 crore, BSP's was Rs 68 crore, SP's Rs 140 crore and CPM, Rs 102 crore. It is clear Congress's income appreciated most sharply. BJP's balancesheet for this year read Rs 177 crore, for CPM, it was Rs 156 crore, SP Rs 144 crore and BSP Rs 118 crore.

      The SP's lead over rival BSP may be attributed that it was still in power in UP, a situation that changed during the course of the year. With I-T returns reflecting the electoral fortunes of parties, the assessments may change if SP remains out of power for longer. CPM's relatively sound finances may be based on its wins in Kerala and West Bengal in 2007. BJP's assets in 2004 were worth Rs 155 crore while Congress's were Rs 136 crore but the situation changed dramatically after NDA was ousted.

      BSP, which is in power in the largest state of Uttar Pradesh, and claims to survive on donations, made less than Rs 70 crore in 2008 - Rs 47 crore through donations and Rs 20 crore by way of membership fees. Interestingly, BSP, in a statement submitted before the tax authorities, claimed it had not received any donations above Rs 20,000.

      But its penchant for dealing in real estate is quite obvious, with the party claiming deduction on account of loss it incurred for sale of a flat in Grandeur Apartment in Jiyamau area in Lucknow. While BSP claims to have bought the apartment for Rs 28.9 lakh in 2006, it was sold in seven months at a loss of nearly Rs 2 lakh. The party also claimed it had been gifted two bungalows during 2007-08 - No 5 Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, Lucknow, worth Rs 2.35 crore and No 11 Sardar Patel Marg, New Delhi worth Rs 10 crore.

      An analysis of I-T returns of these parties for previous years between 2002 and 2006 made by ADR revealed assets rising almost in direct proportion to their standing in Lok Sabha.

      More seats in the lower House of Parliament, higher the earnings. The annualized growth in income of Congress, BJP, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPM and CPI was pegged in the four years between 2002 and 2006 in the range of 3% to 41%.
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