Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav
Photo by Gurinder Osan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party may be out of power but it still is the richest party among regional outfits. Out of power since 2017 and ridden with infighting, the Akhilesh Yadav-headed outfit still has the maximum assets.

The Samajwadi Party declared the highest assets under the head of fixed deposits worth Rs 468.05 crore during FY 2016-17 which further jumped to Rs 482.23 crore a year later. Though it was just a jump of 2.1 per cent, but the sheer amount of asset makes it the richest regional party, according to the latest report on regional parties, published by poll watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Samajwadi Party, that was founded on the ideals of Ram Manohar Lohia and thrived on socialism today, has its peers envious. Interestingly, the report comes at a time when party stalwart Azam Khan is being probed by agencies for alleged corruption.

Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United has witnessed a massive jump in assets in just one year - 298 per cent to be precise. But in terms of worth of assets, Akhilesh Yadav's party appears to be the richest regional party. The ADR report made some more startling revelations.

The JD-U wasn't alone, during Financial Year 2016-17 and 2017-18, the total assets of both Karnataka's Janata Dal-Secular and the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti rose by more than 100 per cent, at 102.9 per cent and 100.4 per cent, respectively.

But then, there are other political parties as well which have suffered losses in fortune like Bihar's Lok Janshakti Party that witnessed a drop of 34.8 per cent of its assets in just one year. Likewise, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha suffered a drop of 15 per cent while, Haryana's Indian National Lok Dal witnessed a drop of 5.9 per cent in its assets worth.

As for liabilities, Tamil Nadu's DMK declared highest liabilities during FY 2016-17, amounting to Rs 7.877 crore under "borrowings". During FY 2017-18, the Telugu Desam Party declared the highest liabilities under "borrowings" amounting to Rs 22.56 crore.

Political parties like the Lok Janshakti Party, the Hill State People's Democratic Party (Meghalaya), the Zoram Nationalist Party (Mizoram), the Peoples Party of Arunachal, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, the Mizoram People's Conference, and the Mizo National Front have shown zero liability.

In terms of reserve funds, the JD-S's fortune increased by a whopping 1281.97 per cent from Rs 0.61 crore in FY 2016-17 to Rs 8.43 crore in FY 2017-18, while that of the JD-U increased by 357.64 per cent. In case of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the reserve funds decreased by 339.62 per cent between the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18.

While registering its observations of the data crunching done by it, the ADR had some scathing points to make. It said: "Regional parties failed to adhere to the ICAI guidelines that direct parties to declare details of the financial institutions, banks or agencies from whom loans were taken. The guidelines specify that the parties should state the 'terms of repayment of term loans' on the basis of due date such as a year, 1-5 years or payable after 5 years."

It also suggested that details of fixed assets received as donations by the parties should be declared as original cost of the asset. The ADR also suggested that details of loans given by the parties in cash or kind should be specified.

The ADR also demanded that the auditing firms should be changed in regular intervals to maintain integrity of the audits. It raised its concern by citing a loophole, "The amended Companies Act, 2013, which came into force on 29th Aug, 2013, stated that no Company shall have an auditor for more than 5 years but this rule was not applied for political parties. Once a firm/person is responsible for auditing of accounts of parties for long duration, there is a possibility that finances of parties could be made as opaque as possible."

This report of ADR analyses the assets and liabilities declared by the 39 regional parties in financial year 2016-17 and 41 regional parties in financial year 2017-18.

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