Patna: Two days after former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is CPI candidate from the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in Bihar, announced that he would contest polls with people’s support and people’s contribution, his crowd funding campaign has raised Rs 24 lakh.
Within 48 hours, hundreds of local residents, mostly young villagers in Begusarai and people across the country, have approached the team that’s campaigning for Kanhaiya Kumar, comprising volunteers from the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), the student wing of the Communist Party of India’s (CPI), offering to contribute and support his candidature.
“So far we have raised Rs 24 lakh via a crowdfunding campaign that was launched on Tuesday. But due to some technical reason or hacker targeting, the site is not functioning. Many people from outside Bihar have approached us, offering to contribute, but said they were not unable to do so as the site was not opening”, Sushil Kumar, an AISF leader, told Newsclick from Begusarai, about 130 km from Patna.
Kanhaiya Kumar has launched the crowdfunding campaign in partnership with OurDemocracy.in, a crowdfunding platform, and aims to raise Rs 70 lakh for his election campaign, which is the permissible limit of expenditure in parliamentary polls, as per the Election Commission.
In his three-minute video clip seeking support, the student leader, “If you believe in democracy, I am seeking your support”, adding that democracy is being attacked and it is a “battle between money power and people’s power.”
Sushil Kumar claimed “unexpected” response from local residents, too. “We have not started collecting contributions from local people till date. We will start soon,” he added.
In the video, appealing for even small contributions, Kanhaiya Kumar is seen speaking in local dialect seeking “one vote and one rupee note” to help him contest polls. He also reminds people that some parties and leaders have made elections a “satta bazaar” (speculative market) of capitalists.
After the formal announcement of his candidature by the CPI, Kanhaiya Kumar said his direct fight would be with Bharatya Janata Party’s (BJP) likely candidate Giriraj Singh. "My fight is to defeat communal and fascist forces in the country. I am confident and sure that people of Begusarai will support and vote me" he said.
Giriraj Singh is a controversial leader, known for his vocal championship of Hinduvta politics.
Satnarayan Singh, CPI state secretary, said some actors and theatre persons associated with the progressive Indian People’s Theatre Assocation will visit Begusarai to campaign for Kanhaiya Kumar. ”Shabana Azmi and her husband Javed Akhtar will campaign for Kanhaiya”, he added.
The CPI had targeted Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a key player in the opposition ‘Grand Alliance’, directly blaming it for not backing the student leader Kanhaiya.
Sources in RJD said that the party was reluctant to support Kanhaiya Kumar on the ground that in last Lok Sabha polls, the RJD candidate Tanveer Hasan got nearly 3.5 lakh votes in Begusarai. Though he was defeated by BJP's Bhola Singh, Hasan managed to prove his popularity, and was keen on contesting this time.
Begusarai will go to polls on April 29 in the fourth of seven phases polls.