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Among regional parties, Shiv Sena is the king of donations

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According to Election Commission data, the Sena received Rs 25.84 crore in donations in 2016-17, while the Aam Aadmi Party received Rs 24.99 crore.

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena is the wealthiest state party in India, an analysis of political donations received by regional parties last year has revealed.

As per Election Commission of India data, the Shiv Sena received at least Rs 25.84 crore in donations in fiscal year 2016-17. Of this, Rs 18.03 crore came from corporates, while Rs 7.81 crore was from non-corporates, including individuals, party leaders, and trusts. Rules state that political parties have to declare to the Election Commission all contributions they receive over Rs 20,000.

The only other state parties which managed to get close to the Shiv Sena’s figure were the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Delhi, and Punjab’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). AAP received donations of Rs 24.99 crore, largely from individuals, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also having contributed Rs 2.2 lakh. The SAD, on the other hand, got Rs 15.45 crore.

Contributions received by other recognised state parties such as Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (Secular), Janata Dal (United), Lok Janshakti Party, Samajwadi Party and so on pale in comparison. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP declared donations of Rs 1.89 crore, Goa’s Maharashtrawadi Gomatak Party declared Rs 3.64 crore, the Samajwadi Party got Rs 6.91 crore, and the JD(S) Rs 4.2 crore. Parties such as Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and J&K’s National Conference had no donations to declare over Rs 20,000.

Most donations from Mumbai’s developers, industries

A large chunk of the Sena’s donations came from developers and infrastructure firms from Mumbai and other nearby cities. These companies, including names such as Kalpataru Properties, Palladium Constructions, Ruby Mills Ltd, Roma Builders, Nahar Builders, Omkar Realtors and so on, contributed about Rs 11 crore to Shiv Sena’s kitty.

Explaining this phenomenon, political analyst Deepak Pawar said: “The Shiv Sena attracts more donations than other regional parties simply because it is based in Mumbai, home to many affluent businesses and industries, and has a hold on two rich civic bodies – the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Thane Municipal Corporation.

“Its strength in Mumbai helps the party get donations from entities in key industrial cities of Maharashtra such as Pune and Nashik too.”

The BMC, which Shiv Sena has ruled for over 25 years, has an annual budget of more than Rs 20,000 crore, and is the country’s richest civic body. One of the major reasons for the Shiv Sena to be flush with funds in 2016-17 could also be that both the Mumbai and Thane civic bodies went to the polls in the last fiscal, and the Sena retained both.

In some cases, contractors and developers handling major projects in Mumbai have made contributions to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Shiv Sena, with the two parties currently in an alliance in the Maharashtra government, but constantly at loggerheads. The allies, which contested last year’s municipal elections as opponents, are likely to go it alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly elections too.

Companies that have contributed to both the BJP and the Shiv Sena include JKumar Infraprojects, which is working on Metro rail projects in the city and was under the BMC’s scanner for allegedly shoddy road work; Omkar Realtors & Developers, which has been working on slum redevelopment projects in Mumbai; and Modern Road Makers, the engineering, procurement, construction arm of IRB Infrastructure, which has bagged several toll projects in the state.

Party leaders say ‘people trust us’

Surendra Jondhale, Mumbai-based political commentator, said there had always been a nexus between the Shiv Sena and the business classes, especially the small and medium-sized businesses in the state. “They have always helped the Shiv Sena in one way or the other,” he said.

Party leaders, however, like to view this relationship differently.

Anil Parab, a Shiv Sena leader and member of the Maharashtra legislative council, said: “Shiv Sena is a party that works for the people, and so we get gratification. The party has also always been vocal on key issues. I am not aware of the exact figures and names, but this is largely why people trust us and feel like giving their money to the party’s fund.”

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