7 days to go, AAP's big donors have dried up

As the election process gets into the last week, AAP has collected only about Rs 34 crore against the targeted Rs 300 crore for Lok Sabha elections

deevakar

Deevakar Anand | May 5, 2014



About the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the news from Australia is that a group of Indian-origin Punjabi taxi drivers in Adelaide raised funds to the tune of Rs 1.6 lakh in support of the fledgling party’s candidates’ electioneering in Punjab. This is what AAP’s website claims.

Back home, our own Millennium City Gurgaon, alone contributed over Rs one crore for the party’s Delhi assembly elections war-chest target of Rs 20 crore, thanks to the contributions from city’s high net worth Individuals (HNIs) - CEOs and senior executives.

However, this time around, the excitement among the HNIs in the country’s corporate heartland where more than 250 Fortune 500 companies have a presence is hardly palpable. Reason: The “fiasco” that AAP’s Delhi win turned out to be (referring to Arvind Kejriwal resigning in just 49 days), says a young entrepreneur who donned AAP’s cap and did door to door canvassing for raising funds in party’s support.

The wife of a well-known MNC CEO, this entrepreneur says on condition of anonymity that she had impressed upon her husband too to make a considerable donation for the party in the Delhi election.

At an informal conversation over coffee at his office in one of Gurgaon’s several glitzy corporate hubs, another CEO of an MNC, which has presence across five continents, says “Arvind’s economic policies were never spelled out clearly. We still believed in him during Delhi elections. But over the months, he has given ample indications that he is not corporate-friendly. We respect his socialist views but we are apprehensive about his clarity on creating jobs and making the market investment-friendly.” This CEO was instrumental in organizing at least two big fundraisers for AAP last year.

Through their social and professional networks, these honchos had enabled funds for AAP from supporters in USA and UK. That too has taken a hit this time.

In the run up to the Delhi assembly elections, Kejriwal would hold closed-door meetings with prospective contributors. For example Kejriwal would address a select curious group of senior executives with good paying ability over informal lunch in one or the other several posh residents’ club. He would discuss basic issues like health, education, employment generation and other relevant concerns with the HNI voters and by the end of the meeting, attendees would often commit to contribute anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1,00,000 to AAP.

With Kejriwal spending most of his time campaigning across the country and stationed in Varanasi for a while, similar meetings have been held by party’s Gurgaon Lok Sabha candidate, Yogendra Yadav.  But support from the corporate big guns of Gurgaon hasn’t been as forthcoming this time around.

In fact, the overall contributions have ebbed: against a targeted treasure-chest of over Rs 300 crore for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the party has so far managed to collect only about Rs 33.5 crore post Delhi assembly elections (since December 12, 2013; source: AAP’s website).

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