Faced with severe fund crunch, the Congress in Maharashtra has asked its office-bearers to deposit Rs 1,000 every month in the party account.
The directive came a few weeks ago and before PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation announcement.
Congress sources said the drive has been launched in the wake of paucity of funds for the upcoming elections to 27 district councils (Zilla parishad) and 212 municipal councils.
The elections begin on Sunday and the Congress is locked in a contest with the BJP, Shiv Sena and its one-time ally, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
A Maharashtra Congress leader said the party functionaries were asked to give “standing instructions” to their respective banks to deduct Rs 1,000 every month from their saving accounts.
This is not the first time the party has sought donations from its members to overcome the financial drought.
Last year, the Congress asked its sitting and former MPs and legislatures to donate Rs 1 lakh each to the party fund.
Several Congress candidates had admitted to the “severe fund crunch” during the Lok Sabha elections last year, adding that they did not get a substantial amount to contest polls.
The crisis reportedly continued during the assembly polls that followed.
Party functionaries blamed the paucity of funds on corporate houses moving away from the Congress.
“Many big business houses sensed our defeat well in advance and swiftly switched over to the BJP,” an AICC functionary said.
Reports about the financial crisis had prompted political circles to question the role of fund managers and the status of donations and funds collected during the party’s 10-year rule at the Centre and in states such as Maharashtra and Haryana.
In February last year, the Congress had made it mandatory for each member to contribute Rs 250 per year to the party fund.