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Kanhaiya Kumar Raised Highest Amount in Online Crowdfunding Followed by AAP's Atishi, Shows Data

File photo of CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar. (PTI)

File photo of CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar. (PTI)

The left parties like the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPM) are the front runners when it comes to following this new way of fund generation.

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Akash Gulankar

New Delhi: The transparency in political funding has long remained a contentious debate. The debate has spiked as the Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the introduction of electoral bonds to finance political parties. Moreover, electoral bonds have been mired in controversy ever since its introduction in Budget 2017-18.

However, for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, many from different political parties are walking the talk and have started to explore the newer way of finding the money for their election campaigns through crowdfunding.

As many as 80 candidates have resorted to the online crowdfunding to garner the funds they needed for the campaign in Lok Sabha polls. Most of these campaigns are run on Our democracy.in, an online crowdfunding platform founded by Anand Mangnale, who was with I-PAC, and ex-journalist Bilal Zaidi. Our Democracy.in describes itself as “India’s first crowdfunding platform compliant with India’s strict political fundraising norms.”

While explaining about the process Zaidi said that the platform is not for charity but for a cause. “The people pay money to strengthen the democracy with direct participation. Only Indian citizens using Indian banks can contribute to the platform,” he added.

Out of the eighty candidates who are using crowdfunding for the election expenses, a total of 78 campaigners have registered on the portal, which is attributed to candidates contesting in polls, which include both the Independent as well as party candidates. These 78 candidates have raised funds of about Rs 1.6 crore in total till April 23, 2019. The number of people who have contributed to the cause has reached up to 8934, as per the data published by the platform.

The number of independent candidates is 27 while those who are contesting on party ticket is 51.

However, the fund collection does not follow a pattern of distribution. The chunk of independent candidates have till now only managed to raise only 2.84 per cent of the total money on the platform, which accounts for Rs 4.65 Lakhs. The rest, Rs 1.59 crore, has gone to the accounts of 51 party candidates, which forms 97.1 per cent share of the total collection by all the candidates.

The CPI candidate and youth leader Kanhaiya Kumar is the only candidate to complete the target of Rs 70 Lakhs. It is the maximum amount any candidate can spend on his political campaign for Lok Sabha polls, as per the directions of Election Commission of India (ECI).

Surprisingly, his funding accounts for 42.7 per cent of the total money collected by all the campaigners on the crowdfunding platform.

The left parties like the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPM) are the front-runners when it comes to following this new way of fund generation. A total of 18 candidates from Left parties had registered themselves on the platform.

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have five candidates each on the list.

Even a party like Congress have two of its candidates on the roll. Nana Patole, a known farmer’s leader, who is contesting against Union minister Nitin Gadkari is one of the two Congressmen. He is contesting from Nagpur Parliamentary constituency and has raised Rs 81,750.

Dr Ashok Tanwar is another Congress candidate from Sirsa constituency and has only managed to raise Rs 2,300 to his support.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) each have one candidate who has registered on this platform.

Interestingly, out of the total 78 campaigners, 14 have managed to cross the figure of Rs 1 lakh collection. Twenty-four of them could cross the figure of Rs 50,000, while only 39 managed to fetch more than Rs 10,000.

Although Kanhaiya Kumar managed to collect 70 lakhs, some people faced a complete disappointment too. Eighteen out of the total campaigners could not raise a single rupee on the platform.

In terms of individual contribution for candidates, the highest share of Rs 2 lakh was received by the AAP candidate, Atishi. The candidate from the East Delhi constituency, Atishi, had collected Rs 59.31 lakh through the platform at the time of filing the report. Other three candidates from AAP — Dilip K Pandey, Raghav Chadha and Pankaj Gupta —have collected Rs 6.16 lakh, Rs 3.27 lakh and Rs 0.68 lakh, respectively.

Sneha Kale and Aswathi Rajappan, two ‘Other’ gender candidates are also on the list. Kale, who is contesting from Mumbai has got a contribution of mere Rs 3,601. While Rajappan, who is contesting from Kerala’s Ernakulam, raised Rs 52,500 to their credit.

Ex-BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, who was expelled from the service after he uploaded the video about the bad food quality and is now contesting from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also registered himself for the crowdfunding campaign. He, however, has only raised Rs 16,751 in his support.

A widow of a farmer who committed suicide last year Vaishali Yede, who is contesting from Yavatmal in Maharashtra had raised a total of Rs 17,701 for her poll campaign.

Apart from the online platform, two parties — Swabhimani Paksha and Swaraj India — have also resorted to crowdfunding.

Known for using crowdfunding to raise money, sitting MP of Hatkanangle constituency Raju Shetti, who again contested from the same constituency, had earlier managed to collect Rs 44 lakh and Rs 64 lakh in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, respectively. Shetti, however, didn’t disclose the amount of money he raised for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when News18.com reached out to him.

Yogendra Yadav, the founder of Swaraj India party, is also raising fund through the online platform. All the details of the donations are open to the public for the purpose of transparency.


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