In Gujarat, some Congress candidates attempt crowdfunding poll campaign - Hindustan Times
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In Gujarat, some Congress candidates attempt crowdfunding poll campaign

Apr 13, 2024 08:50 PM IST

Geniben Thakor, a two-time lawmaker from the Vaav segment, said she turned to crowdfunding to mobilise funds and has circulated a QR code

Congress candidate Geniben Thakor has launched a fundraising initiative to mobilise funds for her election campaign in Gujarat’s Banaskantha Lok Sabha constituency, raising an average of 1.5 lakh every day over the past few weeks to meet her campaign expense.

Two-time legislator Genien Thakor campaigning in Banaskantha (X/GenibenThakor)
Two-time legislator Genien Thakor campaigning in Banaskantha (X/GenibenThakor)

“People of my constituency are extending their support in various ways. Organising one meeting costs about 20,000, and I typically hold five to ten meetings daily…. The community is assisting with all the necessary arrangements, including setting up stages and providing food for attendees,” Thakor told HT over the phone.

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Thakor, a two-time lawmaker from the Vaav assembly segment, said she turned to crowdfunding to mobilise funds and has circulated a QR code, asking constituents to extend her financial support; 11 or more.

Congress leaders said some other party leaders too had adopted this strategy such as tribal leader Anant Patel fielded from Valsad seat and Rutvik Makwana, a former MLA of Chotila, contesting from Surendranagar.

Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi explained the shift towards public funding in the context of financial constraints faced by the Congress. On March 23, the Congress said it was unable to meet its day-to-day expenses as its bank accounts were frozen a month ago.

“We’re maximizing local resources for our campaigning efforts amid the challenges. Candidates are encountering difficulties, yet it’s fostering deeper voter engagement. The party is mobilising funds for financially strapped candidates, leveraging community support. People such as Rutvik Makwana, who have widespread appeal but face financial constraints, are receiving support from the public who organise venues for public meetings. Like the struggle for Independence, this is another fight for freedom,” said Doshi.

To be sure, this isn’t the first time that candidates in the state have turned to crowdfunding their election campaign. In the 2022 Gujarat assembly elections, Dalit leader and Congress candidate Jignesh Mevani, who was among the 17 Congress candidates to win, started an online crowdfunding campaign using ‘Our Democracy’ platform to fund his election campaign on the Vadgam seat.

Tribal leader Anant Patel, a sitting MLA from the Vansda, said he has been getting an overwhelming response from people in his Valsad Lok Sabha constituency after his name was announced by the party.

“Wherever I go the tribals and other local people take care of my public meetings. I hold about 15-20 local-level meetings before addressing one large public meeting in the evening. I am quite confident that this time the BJP will not be able to win all 26 seats and that a significant number of them will go to the Congress,” said Patel over the phone.

Since 2014, the BJP has been winning the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat.

According to an agreement between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress will nominate candidates in 24 out of Gujarat’s 26 seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, while the AAP will field candidates in Bharuch and Bhavnagar constituencies. The BJP has already announced candidates for all 26 seats in Gujarat, whereas the Congress has only declared candidates for 20 seats.

Doshi said the party will provide financial assistance to candidates where needed.

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