Mumbai: Despite installing its own chief minister in Maharashtra for the first time since 1999, Shiv Sena’s income through donations was 20 per cent lower in 2019-20 compared to the previous year.
According to the party’s annual audit report, filed with the Election Commission this month, the Shiv Sena got Rs 105.64 crore through individual and corporate donations, and electoral bonds in 2019-20.
Of these, Rs 36.12 crore came through donations from corporates, Rs 40.98 crore through electoral bonds, Rs 16.83 crore through individual donors and Rs 11.70 crore from institutions and welfare bodies, the audit report details.
To compare, the Shiv Sena drew Rs 130.96 crore in donations in the year 2018-19 when it was allied to the Bharatiya Janata Party and part of the ruling government. The largest share from this, Rs 60.40 crore, came through electoral bonds, followed by Rs 23.39 crore from individual donors, Rs 25.44 crores from institutions and welfare bodies while Rs 17.72 crore were corporate donations.
This drop in donations occurred even though 2019-20 was an election year, when donations to political parties usually rise.
According to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, the party did not expect donations just because it was in power.
“We have never tried to misuse our power to get donations. So, we don’t expect people to give us money just because the Shiv Sena is in power and the CM is from the Shiv Sena now. But, at the end of the day, every party needs funds to contest elections, so if someone is willingly and officially donating to us, we accept it,” the Rajya Sabha MP told ThePrint.
‘Shiv Sena’s riches are in people’s support’
Meanwhile, the BJP received Rs 785.77 crore in donations in 2019-20, an increase from its Rs 741.98-crore collection in 2018-19, according to the party’s contribution reports filed with the Election Commission.
After the BJP declared its donations to the EC, the Shiv Sena slammed its former ally and said that this was just the official figure and did not include the donations that the party got ‘under the table’, implying that the actual figure could be much higher.
In an editorial for the party mouthpiece Saamana Monday, the Shiv Sena said: “Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena is not in the list of the rich and has not got big donations. Still the Shiv Sena has been fighting for the past 50 years simply on the riches of people’s support.”
Keshav Upadhye, chief spokesperson of the Maharashtra BJP, told ThePrint: “The question is about trust. Those who decide to donate to a party first look at its credibility. The way the Shiv Sena changed its affiliations and ideological alignments in 2019-20 must have dented its credibility.”
Shiv Sena’s political churn in 2019-20
In 2018-19, while the Shiv Sena was in a cantankerous alliance with the BJP, the party decided to set aside its differences and continue the alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, citing the common Hindutva ideology.
However, the 2019-20 fiscal year was dotted with a number of political twists and turns. The Shiv Sena first contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with the BJP, with whom it was in power in Maharashtra. But over the next few months it indicated that the alliance could end unless the BJP promises to share the chief minister’s post with the Shiv Sena, if the alliance wins the 2019 state assembly election.
After the assembly election, the Shiv Sena walked out of the alliance in November 2019 when the BJP, which was short of the halfway mark with 105 seats out of 244, continued to remain non-committal on sharing the CM post.
The party then joined hands with its political and ideological rivals Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and party president Uddhav Thackeray took office as CM, in the last four months of the 2019-20 fiscal.
Being in power brings Shiv Sena a BJP contributor
Even as its total income through donations dropped, being in power and having its own chief minister has brought the Shiv Sena an unusual donor — Lodha Developers — a firm owned by a BJP legislator.
Lodha Developers, which has now been renamed as Macrotech Developers, contributed Rs 5 crore to the Shiv Sena’s kitty in 2019-20 in two cheques. The firm is owned by BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who is also the president of the party’s Mumbai unit. The BJP legislator’s son, Abhishek Lodha, is the managing director of the company.
However, MLA Lodha told ThePrint: “I don’t want to comment on it. I am not in the business.”
The Mumbai-based real estate company also did not donate to the Shiv Sena while it was in power with the BJP.
The last time Lodha donated to the Shiv Sena was in 2014-15. That year, the Shiv Sena and the BJP contested the Lok Sabha elections together, split before the assembly elections to contest separately and came back together to form a government in the state.
The Lodha Group had donated Rs 5 crore to the Shiv Sena through its subsidiary companies Lodha Dwellers and Lodha Buildmart.
According to Raut, “Mangal Prabhat Lodha is a businessman and his company has officially donated to our party. It is not under the table. He has donated to other parties too. There is nothing surprising about it.”
The Lodha Group also donated Rs 5 crore to the NCP in 2019-20 when the party came to power with the Shiv Sena as part of the MVA.
(Edited by Rachel John)