On October 23, Bharatiya Janata Party launched an initiative to seek micro donations from party workers and well-wishers through the NaMo app. Under this provision, any amount between ₹5 and ₹1000 can be donated to the party. To promote the initiative, senior leaders of the party including Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made donations using this facility, and tweeted the receipt which is generated after the payment is made.
Contributed to @BJP4India, via the ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App.’
I urge you all to contribute to the Party through the App and spread the message of transparency in public life. pic.twitter.com/5NwwDzC2BA
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 23, 2018
Seeing this tweet, French Security Researcher Elliot Alderson, who takes a keen interest in privacy and data security matters in India, commented that Modi forgot to blur the PAN which was visible on the receipt. Please note that Elliot Alderson is actually a Twitter alias used by Robert Baptiste, who frequently exposes flaws in the Aadhaar system.
You forgot to blur the PAN number… https://t.co/CXwTvcmdkB
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) October 23, 2018
As Robert is quite informed about the Indian financial system, it was a very strange comment from him. Because, it is not Narendra Modi’s PAN that is printed on the receipt, but it is the PAN of the BJP. The number AAABB0157F is in public domain, including documents available on Election Commission website. The same number was seen on receipts posted by numerous people who made the donation using the newly launched feature on the NaMo app.
As a BJP karyakarta myself, I have donated an amount of Rs 1,000 to the party through NM app. I appeal to all our karyakartas and well wishers to join the initiative for bringing in transparency in public life and donate using either NM app or at https://t.co/VILyxBFfdE. pic.twitter.com/J828UwsIq2
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) October 23, 2018
Moreover, even if Narendra Modi had ‘revealed’ his PAN by ‘mistake’, it would not be any issue, as his Permanent Account Number is also in public domain. In India, everyone who contests elections conducted by Election Commission of India, has to mention their PAN on their affidavits which is submitted to EC along with nomination papers.
Not just PAN, candidates have to mention several financial details on the affidavit, like bank account numbers, bank and branch detail, and balance in those accounts on a particular date. The affidavits are available on Election Commission website, and also on website Myneta, which curates the affidavits and other information about candidates. This also may come as a big surprise for Robert.
Immediately Robert posted the tweet, people started replying to him that it is the party PAN and not Modi’s PAN, which he has chosen to ignore till now.
People also informed him that in PAN of individual persons, the fourth character is always ‘P’, while the PAN on the receipt is ‘B’, which stands for Body of Individuals, and the fifth character is the first character of surname of the person, or first character of name of the non-person entity. And the fifth character in this case is B, if it was Modi’s PAN, it should be M.
It is rather amusing that Robert is unaware about such simple and widely known facts about PAN (not ‘PAN number’ as he wrote, which would expand to Permanent Account Number number), and his tweet got so many retweets and likes.