The incumbent Congress MLA from Ganaur assembly constituency in Sonepat and also the outgoing Vidhan Sabha speaker, Kuldeep Sharma is not only getting support but even money bags, quite literally, at public gatherings in villages while seeking votes.
The donations range from `100 to thousands, and everyone from a watchman to the village’s bigwigs make contributions as per capacity. Sharma’s campaign managers say they maintain proper record of the donations and hand over slips of money detail to his gunman.
On Saturday, when the HT team was in Ganaur to cover his campaign and attended four of his public gatherings in Ahir Majra, Kheri Majra, Bilandpur and Nayabans village, in each village 15 to 30 people showed their support by donating money at the public platform.
At Kheri Majra, 30 people donated Rs 1,100 to 5,000 each, a total of Rs 80,000. At Bilandpur, 18 people donated Rs 61,500. For instance, For instance, a man named Chand Singh gave Rs 11,000 at Bilandpur, and a contribution of Rs 100 also came from Chowkidar Ratan.
“By donating money, people are showing their support and love for Sharma-ji. We started village campaigning on September 29, and since then there hasn’t been a single village where people have not donated money. There are 15 to 30 people per village donating money,” said Surinder Waragi, Congress’ constituency incharge for Ganaur.
Every day, apart from visiting localities in urban areas, Sharma has been visiting around 10 villages. If one goes by the claims and also calculations from the four villages, he would get `70,000 a village; by the time he covers all 78 villages of his constituency, the amount could hit `55 lakh. The expenditure limit per candidate set by the Election Commission is `28 lakh.
“Before the start of each public gathering, villagers get their names and respective amount noted with to me, and later I announce that. Then they hand over the money in public, showing their support. Two days ago (October 2), in one village people donated `5 lakh, and even the brother of the INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) candidate donated `21,000 at his village,” claimed Waragi.
When contacted, Haryana chief electoral officer Shrikant Walgad said, “Every candidate has to maintain record of expenditure as well as of the money received. Over and above Rs 20,000 cash in the entire election, all transactions have to be done through cheque from the nominee’s election account. Moreover, any person related to elections cannot carry cash above Rs 50,000.”