Patiala MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi has resorted to online crowdfunding to finance his campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Dr Gandhi, who won the Patiala seat in 2014 on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket, is contesting the 2019 polls from his newly-floated Punjab Manch, which is now part of the People Democratic Alliance.
The crowdfunding campaign of Dr Gandhi is being run on an online platform, Our Democracy, and a target of Rs 7 lakh has been set. Dr Gandhi said he had come to know that certain candidates had taken this initiative for clean funding. “I have no option, but to get money from people. I will ask for money door-to-door if need be. I do not have the resources that are at the disposal of Preneet Kaur, wife of the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who is expected to stand for election from Patiala on a Congress ticket,” he said.
Bilal Zaidi, founder of Our Democracy, said that the portal was running several such funding initiatives for Lok Sabha candidates and many were from AAP. “Most prominent is Atishi, an AAP candidate from Delhi, for whom over Rs 36 lakh has already been collected in form of small donations. Other people who are part of this initiative include AAP’s Raghav Chadha, former IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir Shah Faesal and an AAP candidate from Goa. There are many others who are awaiting their ticket declaration,” he said.
Dr Gandhi said that he has decided to crowdfund his campaign to ensure transparency and support of the people he wants to represent in the Parliament. “I’m contesting second time to firmly establish that a common man can fight and win again in Patiala. A second win against Kaur, who represents the dynasty of erstwhile Patiala royals, will strengthen the narrative of social change in Punjab. It would be a sign that the people of Patiala have rejected traditional politics completely and embraced a clean alternative,” he said.
Our Democracy claims itself to be India’s first crowdfunding platform compliant with India’s strict political fund-raising norms.
“India is the world’s largest democracy and political finance is supposed to be a Rs 80,000 crore industry. Yet, there is very little transparency on where these funds come from. We feel digital India gives the citizens a great opportunity to reclaim democracy by participating through micro donations. We hope our politicians from across political parties will accept our #WhiteMoneyChallenge and sign up on the platform,” said Zaidi.