Congress, crowdfunding and cash in its ‘frozen’ bank accounts

The Congress said on Friday that the party’s and its youth wing’s bank accounts had been frozen by the Income tax department. The party was, however, allowed to operate the ‘frozen’ bank accounts by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal’s bench in New Delhi.

The relaxation from the income tax appeals forum came just hours after Ajay Maken, the Congress treasurer, made public the freeze on four bank accounts.

Maken said that the Income Tax Department had sought to recover Rs 210 crore from the Congress and the Youth Congress. He said the accounts were frozen because of a 45-day delay in filing the Income Tax return for the year 2018-19.

It’s an issue dating back five financial years.

However, Maken called the reason “laughable”.

Then he went to allege that the party’s account had money crowd-funded by the party. All the money was made through digital transfers. He went on to add that most of the donations had been made through UPI and were under Rs 100.

How much did the Congress crowdfund during its drive and how much does it have in its bank accounts? This is interesting because Ajay Maken referred to the crowdfunding drive and the money from it while saying that the freezing of the “Opposition’s accounts is equivalent to freezing democracy”.

Crowdfunding is funding a project by raising small amounts of money from many people, mostly online.


“Income tax asked for Rs 210 crore recovery from Youth Congress and Congress party. The money did not come from industrialists and capitalists but is the crowdfunding money in our accounts, which has been frozen. Just two weeks before elections, when the Opposition’s accounts are frozen, it is equivalent to freezing democracy,” Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said.

“Around Rs 25 crore of money has been collected from the crowdfunding, of which more than 95% of donations were less than Rs 100, through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI)”, added Maken.

It is noteworthy that the accounts of the Congress party that were frozen by the Income Tax Department also included the money the party got in donations from crowdfunding. Another notable point is that not all the money that was in the accounts of the Congress Party came from crowdfunding.


The Congress Party’s crowdfunding campaign named, ‘Donate for Desh’ was launched in December 2023, to generate resources for the party before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign has twin objectives: more public funds and more public participation.

In just 48 hours of the launch, the crowdfunding campaign had collected close to Rs 3 crore from over 1,13,000 contributors, reported IndiaToday.In.

Any person who donated Rs 670 or more would get a T-shirt signed by Rahul Gandhi as a gift, under the party’s crowdfunding campaign, said Ajay Maken in January 2024.

“Those who donate Rs 67,000 or more will get a ‘Nyay Kit’ which will contain a T-shirt, bag, band, badge and sticker,” Maken added.

The ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign had collected Rs 20 crore from its launch on December 18, 2023, until January 24, reported the Press Trust of India.


According to the ‘Donate for Desh’ website, which is now named, ‘Donate for Nyay’, the total ‘Online’ collection stands at Rs 22,46,77,306 (around Rs 22 crore), probably the same amount Ajay Maken referred to as “Rs 25 crore of crowdfunding money”.

The website also shows a ‘Total Donation for Nyay Collection’, to be Rs 5.55 crore.

Donors from Rajasthan, Haryana and Telangana topped the chart of the crowdfunding collections.

At present, the Congress donation website gives its prospective donors options to donate between Rs 67 to Rs 6,70,000, for the ongoing 6700 kilometres of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.

The ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign was inspired by the ‘Tilak Swaraj Fund’ of 1920-21, which was promoted and amplified by Mahatma Gandhi, based on the ‘spirit of collective responsibility’, according to the Congress Party website.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, before leading the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, had led the Bharat Jodo Yatra, and covered 4,080 kilometres between Kanyakumari and Jammu and Kashmir, to discuss ‘India’s economic problems and social disharmony’ with the common people.

The Congress had Rs 162 crore with it as of March 2023. This includes cash in hand, money in current and savings accounts, and fixed deposits.

In March 2023, the party had around Rs 9 core in its current accounts, while the bulk of the money, Rs 150 crore, was in the form of fixed deposits.

The national party’s bank balance status as of today isn’t clear.

However, information shared by Congress leader Ajay Maken hints at its cash reserve.

“On our petition, the Income Tax Department and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) have said that we have to ensure that Rs 115 crore be kept in the bank accounts. This, Rs 115 crore, is the lien marked in the bank accounts. We can spend an amount over and above that,” Maken posted on X.

“This means that Rs 115 crore has been frozen. This Rs 115 crore is much more than we have in our Current Accounts,” Maken said on Friday, hours after the Income Tax tribunal gave relief to the Congress to operate its accounts.

Going by what Maken said, the Congress might have an amount above Rs 25 crore and much less than Rs 115 crore in its current accounts.

Published By:

Sushim Mukul

Published On:

Feb 16, 2024

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