Only a fortnight to go for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections,citizens candidates are finding their back against the wall as far as fundraising for their campaign is concerned. Citizens candidates platforms,which are banking on Mumbaikars to chip in for election expenses,are reeling under a severe fund crunch.
In the fifteen days since the Mumbai 227 platform launched the Adopt a Corporator drive to raise about one lakh rupees for each of the 67 candidates it is supporting,the response from Mumbaikars has been poor. So far,monetary help has only trickled in from candidates friends and families.
The response has been very bad. We are facing constraints and need funding. Its like when it comes to civic issues,nobody bothers, Santosh Awatramani of Mumbai 227 said.
The Mumbai Nagrik Satta a citizens platform founded by Adolf DSouza,the first citizens candidate to have made it as a corporator the last polls started raising resources for its election campaign by asking every family in the candidates wards to contribute Rs 100. Through hand bills and by word of mouth,the group hoped to raise one lakh rupees for each of the nine candidates it is supporting. Ten days have gone by since the fundraising drive began but the group has raised a meagre Rs 10,000.
Its still early days. If we dont get the amount we need for election expenses,we will simply have to do more legwork,go house to house and seek funds, DSouza said.
DSouza,who had contested as an Independent from Juhu (ward no. 63) in the 2007 civic elections,had Rs 57,000 as poll expenses.
Mumbai 227s Awatramani believes that the problem of citizens not willing to come forward with donations for the citizens groups is because these groups are not treated as charity institutions,unlike political parties. Hence,donations made to citizens candidates platforms do not get income tax rebate under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
Unlike the Mumbai 227 and Mumbai Nagrik Satta,the Mumbai Nagrik Manch,which is supporting three candidates,is not fretting about the funds.
We dont need huge banners,posters and events as we are fielding candidates from wards they belong to. For example,everybody in Mahim knows who Joe Gaikwad is because he has worked for the area, Hansel DSouza of the Mumbai Nagrik Manch said.
Mumbai Nagrik Manch plans to spend a maximum of Rs 50,000 per candidate and is finding it easier than other citizens platforms because there are just three candidates,Hansel said.