Contrary to ther public stand of reducing the role of "money power" in the polls, the former union minister and Punjab BJP affairs in charge Shanta Kumar in Jalandar on Sunday gave a call to the party office bearers to collect, as much "money" as they can, from masses to meet electioneering expenses during forthcoming Punjab Assembly polls.
Addressing a meeting of the state unit in Jalandar, which virtually was converted into a money collection exercise, Shanta Kumar said that apart from motivating the voters to favour the BJP, there was a need to collect money to win the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
"We can make mass collection and 'class' collection. The 'class' people have more money to donate for such party works. You can start collection immediately and finish the exercise by December end. After this, it will not be possible to collect funds (from the public)," Veteran BJP leader exhorted the workers, who were seemingly not enthusiastic to the call.
Earlier, the state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma from the dais questioned the Ludhiana BJP chief on how much money he could garner for the party elections funds. "You asked me to collect Rs one crore during former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani's recent visit to Ludhiana. I will do so," he replied.
But, Sharma was quick to raise the demand to Rs three crores. "Ludhiana is a big district and a majority of residents are very wealthy. You should collect Rs three crores," he quipped. "How can I collect so much of money? I will make Rs one crore for the party kitty," he requested, but of no avail, as Sharma was seemingly in no mood to relent.
Next was the turn of Jalandhar BJP chief Subash Sood, who was also one of the panelists on the dais and assured to arrange Rs 50 lakh. "Now, you must contribute Rs one crore," Sharma asserted. "Former minister Manoranjan Kalia of Jalandhar had already contributed nearly Rs 50 lakh for construction of party office and we will arrange rest of Rs 50 lakh," Sood said.
"Don't adjust MLAs or ministers' contribution in election funds. Fetch Rs one crore," Sharma replied.
Hoshiarpur BJP chief was virtually found begging for relief, when Sharma ordered him to collect Rs 50 lakh instead of the earlier demand of Rs 20 lakh. Subsequently, one of the office bearers from the gathering stood up to advise the leadership not to burden the district units or the workers while asking if the collections should be made by the party MLAs or the ministers.
Sharma continued with the exercise, as he asked Amritsar BJP president Bakshi Ram to deposit Rs one crore while suggesting him to take assistance of Amritsar mayor Shwet Malik and other leaders in the money collection spree. Ram was earlier asked to collect Rs 50 lakh.
In a blanket order, the state BJP chief asked the rest of the district presidents to collect Rs 20 lakh each while announcing that MLAs, Mayors, ministers and chairmen of various boards and corporations would separately chip in.
Before disbursing for lunch, the organisers adviced all district heads to fetch receipt books for making "mass" collections.