GUWAHATI, April 2 - Even as the �crowdfunding� campaign of former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, contesting as the Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate from the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat of Bihar, has hogged the limelight, it is noteworthy that the Left parties in Assam have for years resorted to the same method for collection of funds to meet their election expenditure.
Senior leaders of the Left parties told this newspaper that crowdfunding is currently on in the State to finance their poll campaign for the ensuing polls.
However, unlike Kumar, who is using the internet and online medium for crowdfunding in a big way, the Left parties in Assam are sticking to their traditional methods.
�We neither seek nor accept corporate funding or donations from business houses. In Assam our party is undertaking crowdfunding. We are seeking not only the votes of the electorate but also their support financially to fund our campaign expenditure,� CPI Assam State unit secretary Munin Mahanta told The Assam Tribune. Mahanta and Kumar are both members of CPI�s national council.
Mahanta said that CPI cadres are going from door to door to seek financial support from the masses.
�In addition, we are also holding fund collection drives at marketplaces and other public venues. Our sympathisers are also contributing to our efforts. All are voluntary contributions. We charge a one per cent levy on the income of all our party members and a 15 per cent levy on all our former MPs and MLAs who receive pensions. But I must admit that we cannot reach the figures which Kumar has managed to collect within such a short time,� said the leader.
Kumar has so far collected over Rs 30 lakh in Begusarai through crowdfunding to finance his election campaign.
While the Election Commission of India (ECI) has fixed Rs 70 lakh as the maximum permissible limit of expenditure by a candidate in a constituency, Mahanta said that CPI will be able to spend only a fraction of that amount.
�Our party is contesting from two constituencies in Assam � Jorhat and Lakhimpur. We cannot afford to spend more than four or five lakh rupees in a seat. So, taking both the constituencies into account, our election expenditure in Assam will be maximum Rs 10 lakh,� said Mahanta.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or the CPI(M) has also intensified its crowdfunding efforts in the run-up to the polls.
�Our policy is to seek both votes as well as funds from the public. We are collecting funds during our house-to-house canvassing. Besides, our sympathisers also help us. Our card-carrying party members have to contribute minimum one day�s income for our election fund. At certain places, our cadres are seeking voluntary contributions from the general public in markets, bus stands and such other venues,� said Suprakash Talukdar, central committee member of the CPI(M). He added that accepting corporate funding or electoral bonds in prohibited by the party.