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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 14, 2014
If you want to have dinner with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and have cash to spare – anywhere between Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2.4 crore – here is your moment. Emulating a regular fund-raising feature of American presidential-style contests, Modi will attend a fund-raising dinner on March 26 at the capital's Ashoka Hotel. How much you pay will determine where you sit.

Those who shell out Rs. 1 lakh will get a seat on the back-row; those who pay Rs. 2.5 lakh will get a front-row dinner table; those who pay Rs. 25 lakh will get to break bread with Modi himself on his round-table. There is a separate category for corporate sponsors who can pay anywhere between Rs. 60 lakh to Rs. 2.4 crore.

If it is a full house, the dinner – that targets members of key business and industry associations as well as professional leaders – could raise over Rs. 15 crore.

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The organiser, Citizens for Accountable Governance, is an NGO set up to canvass for the Gujarat CM.

The money collected will go to the Modi for PM fund launched by BJP in mid-January. The party also has separately, on its website, announced that contributors to the fund will be a part of a lucky draw, the winners of which will get a chance to meet and eat with the "man who could be India's next PM".

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party was the first party in India to adopt this model, though on a smaller scale. At its first such dinner in Nagpur on Thursday evening, the party netted close to Rs. 14 lakh from 130 participants.

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"It was a successful event and we managed to reach the target we had set from this fund raising dinner," Girish Nandgaonkar, a member of AAP's Nagpur unit told HT. The second such programme is scheduled at Bengaluru on Saturday.

And the party – that had hoped to attract 250 guests – has had to turn down requests, Prithvi Reddy, a member of AAP's national executive said. AAP hopes to raise Rs. 200 crore for its Lok Sabha campaign through this model.

The Association of Democracy Reforms co-founder Jagdeep Chokhar said there was no problem with American-style techniques as long as "the money is raised legitimately and it is explained who is paying how much".

* A plate with Modi costs Rs. 100,000-25,00,000

* A plate with Kejriwal costs Rs. 10-20,000

* A plate with Obama costs $35-40,000