Congress ‘rebels’ – a group dubbed the ‘G-23’ – donated more money to the party than the Gandhis in the financial year 2019-20, according to the party’s contribution report to the Election Commission of India (ECI) last week.
The Congress, as per its own submission, received a total donation of ₹139 crore in 2019-20. A year before, it got ₹146 crore.
The party high command – current president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul – donated ₹50,000 and ₹54,000, respectively.
Five of the G-23 leaders either matched Rahul’s donation or gave more.
Twenty-three Congress leaders raised uncomfortable questions for the high command last August, which resulted in a lot of deliberations on the way Congress has been functioning under the Gandhis and what lies ahead for India’s Grand Old Party.
Kapil Sibal donated ₹3 crore to the party fund, making him the biggest individual contributor among all leaders.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Milind Deora and Raj Babbar are the other big contributors.
Raj Babbar donated ₹1.08 lakh; he was followed by Deora (₹1 lakh). Azad, Sharma and Tharoor contributed ₹54,000 each.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former defence minister AK Antony, the late Motilal Vora and Ahmed Patel, former Union minister Preneet Kaur and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too made contributions of ₹54,000 each.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who left Congress to join the BJP, resulting in the downfall of Congress government in Madhya Pradesh in 2020, also contributed Rs 54,000 to the party fund.
Prudent Electoral Trust, funded by Bharti Airtel, made the single biggest contribution of ₹31 crore, followed by ITC at ₹13 crore.
It is mandatory for all parties to submit a contribution report to the ECI each year, giving names of individuals, companies and trust who have donated more than ₹20,000.
Call for debate
The Congress’ predicament – firstly over accepting Ayodhya as Ram’s birthplace and several events that followed over the years till the actual work over building the temple started – forced senior leader and MP Manish Tiwari to seek a “candid” and “conceptual” discussion within the party on “core ideological issues”.
Tiwari’s call for a debate was triggered by reports that the National Students Union of India, a students’ wing of the party, is collecting funds for building the Ram temple.
Tiwari was among the 23 senior Congress leaders who revolved against the ‘party high command’ last August.