Congress’ Crowdfunding Drive For 2024 Polls

The campaign was launched by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge in Delhi

New Delhi:

When you depend on rich people, you have to follow their policies, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said today at the launch of the party’s Donate for Desh campaign to raise funds ahead of the general election due next year.

“It’s the first time Congress is asking people for donations for the nation. If you work only by depending on the rich people, then you have to follow their policies. Mahatma Gandhi also took donations from the public during the freedom struggle,” Mr Kharge said at the launch event in Delhi today.

The Congress said in a post on X that the ‘Donate for Desh’ drive is a commitment “to champion the rights of marginalized communities, bridge disparities, and stand as a formidable opposition against a government favouring the affluent”.

The campaign is being launched as the Congress completes 138 years. The payment link on the Congress website prompts donors to make contributions of Rs 138 or Rs 1,380 or Rs 13,800. The donor, however, can choose to donate a different amount.

Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, who attended the launch event, told the media yesterday that the crowdfunding initiative was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s historic ‘Tilak Swaraj Fund’, launched in 1920-21.

All state Congress chiefs have been asked to spread awareness about the campaign. The drive will be primarily online till the party’s foundation day on December 28, following which Congress volunteers will go door-to-door for contributions of at least Rs 138.

The Congress had launched an outreach-cum-crowdfunding campaign in 2018, ahead of the last Lok Sabha election, but it did not gain much momentum.

A PTI report quoting Congress sources has said the party is cash-strapped and struggling to counter “the well-oiled BJP poll machinery”. The sources said the BJP is garnering a majority of electoral bonds as the scheme is designed to favour the ruling party.

The BJP has scoffed at the crowdfunding campaign, saying those who looted India for 60 years were now out to seek funds. The ruling party also claimed that the campaign is aimed at deflecting attention from the massive cash haul from the premises of Congress MP Dhiraj Sahu.

“Don’t be fooled by the Congress’s lofty talk of this crowdsourcing being inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s historic Tilak Swaraj Fund. They will tarnish both the Mahatma and Tilak. Going by their previous track record, this will turn out to be nothing but another attempt to siphon off public money and enrich the Gandhis,” BJP leader Amit Malviya alleged in a post on X.

“All the hard-earned money people donate, if they do, will go to the Gandhis, who will continue to enjoy the good life. Worse, the move will be reduced to nothing, but another means to solicit dirty money, the kind Congress MP Dhiraj Sahu has been caught with,” Mr Malviya alleged, adding, “Don’t ‘Donate for Dynasty”.

Income Tax department’s raids against an Odisha-based distillery firm owned by Mr Sahu’s family and linked entities have found a cash mountain of over Rs 351 crore, prompting the BJP to target the Congress. The Congress has distanced itself from its Rajya Sabha MP, claiming the party has nothing to do with his business.

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