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Maharashtra assembly polls: Candidates seek donations online, go door-to-door to crowdfund campaigns

Several candidates like Lad have kicked off online campaigns and door-to-door visits, seeking donations for their Assembly election campaigns.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
October 4, 2019 5:17:09 am
election results 2019, bjp lok sabha election results, election results online, lok sabha election, lok sabha election results, election news, lok sabha election results 2019, delhi ls polls, AAP, arvind kejriwal Currently, voters cast two votes, one to elect the mayor or the president, and the other to elect the councillor in their respective wards.(Image for representational purpose)

Contesting from Jogeshwari East, Vitthal Lad and a small group of followers have so far raised Rs 25,000 through door-to-door visits. His online crowdfunding campaign, which states that he requires Rs 28 lakh, received its first donation of Rs 1,001 on Thursday. Several candidates like Lad have kicked off online campaigns and door-to-door visits, seeking donations for their Assembly election campaigns.

For 36 years, Lad has backed the cause of tribal rights. Recently, he also joined the ‘Save Aarey’ campaign opposing the construction of the Metro carshed in the green cover near Goregaon. After realising that protests on the road didn’t yield the expected results, Lad decided to make his electoral debut from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Pressed for finances, he launched an online campaign in the hope of finding more donors.

Lad will be taking on the Shiv Sena’s incumbent Ravindra Waikar, who exerts a strong hold in Jogeshwari’s slums. “Big political parties have no issue regarding funds. They can hold rallies and big meetings. We are hoping to raise at least Rs 15 lakh to draw enough attention of voters,” he said. Several contributors to Lad’s campaign are daily wagers who shelled out Rs 50 and Rs 100 notes.

In Amravati’s Achalpur, Omprakash Babarao Kadu, fondly referred as Bacchu Kadu, has gathered Rs 1,300 so far through online appeals. His online campaign states that he requires Rs 28 lakh. In the 2014 elections, Kadu spent Rs 26 lakh on public meetings and rallies. He is the first Independent to have won thrice from Achalpur seat, having defeated the BJP’s candidate by 10,000 votes in 2014 despite a strong Modi wave sweeping the state.

“This is the fourth time I am contesting as an Independent,” he said. Kadu, who joined politics after being inspired by Balasaheb Thackeray, quit the Shiv Sena in the late 90s. He had attracted attention for staging a protest on top of a water tank in a Sholay-like scene at Achalpur.

Online campaigns were also widely used during Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, with Kanhaiya Kumar and AAP’s Atishi gathering funds through online donors.

This Assembly election, the web portal ‘Our Democracy’ is running an online campaign for the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and several Aam Aadmi Party candidates. Forest rights activist Paromita Goswami, who will contest from Brahmapuri in Chandrapur, has also taken to online platforms to raise funds.

Bilal Zaidi, Our Democracy co-founder, said the idea is to involve people not just in the voting process, but also during campaigning. “Until a few years ago, people would not donate money to politicians. There is a cultural shift now. While Lok Sabha elections garner more support from crowds across India, state elections are more localised,” Zaidi said.

Several candidates have also pooled their life savings to conduct their election campaigns. In Andheri West, chawl resident Santosh Jangam is contesting as an Independent. He is using Facebook videos to appeal for votes and funds. Jangam, a technical supervisor at construction sites, earns Rs 19,000 per month. He has declared just two assets — a gold chain and gold ring — in his affidavit.

“So far, I have Rs 2.5 lakh. Most of it is from my savings,” he said.

Jangam decided to fight the Assembly elections to improve water, sanitation and electricity issues in slum areas. “Slum dwellers still have to pay a high amount for using toilets. Most cannot afford it. I will work to make toilets accessible for them,” he said. He has started door-to-door meetings with chawl residents. While Jangam does not have enough funds for rallies, he will attempt to hold public meetings in the coming days. His friends have also lent him some money.

In 2014, Mumbai did not elect a single Independent candidate. Milind Mhaske, project director at NGO Praja Foundation, which brings out a yearly report card on the performance of MLAs, said people remain ill-informed about who to choose as their candidate and how. “People vote for the party, not individual,” he said.

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