Kanhaiya Kumar raises Rs 70 lakh through crowd funding

New Delhi: CPI candidate from Begusarai Kanhaiya Kumar has raised the highest amount of over Rs 70 lakh through crowd funding for Lok Sabha elections while Atishi, AAP candidate from Delhi East, has raised over Rs 61 lakh so far, according an online crowd funding platform.

Kumar, who will be a candidate in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls on April 29, raised Rs 70,00,903 with help 5326 supporters on the crowd funding platform `Our Democracy’.

The funds for him have ranged from highest Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 100 with several people giving their names while a few choosing anonymity by describing themselves as “well wisher”.

Kumar is locked in a triangular contest with BJP leader and Union minister Giriraj Singh and RJD’s Tanveer Hassan.

Atishi has so far raised Rs 61,78,214 thorough crowd funding. With Delhi going to the polls in the sixth phase on May 12, she is expected to raise more money for the campaign.

Her colleagues in the party and contestants from Delhi Dilip K. Pandey and Raghav Chadha have also raised money through crowd funding. Pandey has raised Rs 6,17,107 and Raghav Chadha Rs 3,67,111.

The dismissed BSF trooper, Tej Bahadur Yadav, who complained of poor quality food given to the forces and has decided to fight election from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been able to raise Rs 46,752 so far.

RJD leader and former Bihar Finance Minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who is contesting from Darbhanga, has raised Rs 1,23,677.

Election Commission guidelines state that a candidate can spend between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 70 lakh, depending on the state where they are fighting the Lok Sabha election. A candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh as election expenditure except in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim. The cap for Delhi is Rs 70 lakh but it is less for other union territories. It is Rs 54 lakh for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim.

Bilal Zaidi, a co-founder Our Democracy, told IANS that they launched the platform in January and it has been used for 79 election candidate campaigns so far.

“Most of them are Lok Sabha candidates but a couple of candidates are contesting assembly polls. The platform is designed in a way that it creates virality (social media support),” he said.

Zaidi said of 79 candidates, eight are from Left parties, three from Congress, two from Samajwadi Party, one from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and many independents.

He said Our Democracy is the only platform at present which meets the norms of election funding set by the Election Commission.

Asked about website not displaying names of all the donors, he said they “allow people to be private” if they chose to do so.

“Our purpose is that whatever money comes, it should be a bank-to-bank transaction. When a candidate submits details of donors to the Election Commission, all the names will be there. The website will show names of those who are comfortable in getting them displayed,” he said.

The minimum contribution accepted by the platform is Rs 100.

Zaidi said it is easier for people with national profile to get funding through social media and those with a localised profile find it a little difficult.

“India is world’s largest democracy and we celebrate democracy at every level. With a country that is such a vibrant democracy, why is there such a question around political finance? How come ordinary people do not know much about those who fund political parties?” he asked.

He said they wanted to reach out to citizens so that they not only vote but but also take the responsibilty of funding and expenditure of their political candidates so that they work for them.

Zaidi said they charge five per cent commission on all the funds that are raised.