The party that showed that social media and the internet have a place in politics is now relying on the humble text message for a job that’s as important as its people connect — fund-raising. Heading into a nationwide election campaign, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to roll out mobile phone apps aimed at making the process of cash donations secure and tamper-proof, and the key to ensuring that is a digital receipt sent via SMS to the donor, report Ajay Sukumaran & Anand J in Bangalore.
These apps are probably among the first attempts by any political party to blend technology with the political process beyond what’s being done on the social media front. Incidentally, the goal of the Aadhaar platform put in place by Nandan Nilekani — who is fighting elections from the Bangalore South seat on a Congress ticket — is to spawn an app developer ecosystem based on the identity infrastructure it has created.
The party is currently testing two software applications, built in-house by crowdsourcing tech expertise from volunteers across the country, in rural locations near Bangalore while a third app from a private company is being tested in the Bangalore Central constituency from where former Infosys board member V Balakrishnan is contesting as the AAP candidate. The party plans to roll out the solutions this week.
The solutions developed by AAP are primarily aimed at ensuring that election funds are collected only by people authorised by the party while also allowing the donor to verify the person’s identity, according to Vijayvithal, a Bangalore-based software professional and an AAP volunteer involved with the app development process. A person who makes a cash donation will receive an SMS receipt, something on the lines of the alerts that banks provide for ATM transactions, apart from a paper receipt.
Since the details of identity cards such as a driving licence or the Aadhaar card belonging to a fund-raiser will be stored centrally, the donor will also be able to verify them by a text message to same general number. Typically, there could be a few hundred fund-raisers in a parliamentary constituency but there will be limits on the cash amounts each can collect or what an individual can donate.
AAP currently seeks donations through the payment gateways enabled on its website or through cheques. “We don't encourage cash donations. But this will increase the security of