Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani has raised over Rs 64,000 through online crowdfunding to support his Gujarat election campaign against the RSS-BJP.
Determined not to accept any funding from corporates or political parties, Mevani’s Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch is looking to raise Rs 20 lakh from the citizens.
“We are a one-and-a-half-year-old Dalit rights group which has never received funds from any political party, corporates, NGOs or funding agencies. Our organisation, namely the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, works and survives with people's contributions, the motto being ‘Janta ki ladayi, janta ke paiso se’ (the people’s fight through the people’s money),” wrote Mevani in an open letter appealing for funds.
“On the other hand, the enemy camp in power has immense backing not just from Indian corporations but global capital as well.”
Outrage over widespread atrocities on Dalits, who constitute just around 7% of the population in Gujarat, was sparked off by the Una flogging incident in July 2016. It led to a groundswell of protests and consolidation of the Dalit population and anti-caste forces against the casteist and pro-corporate agenda of the ruling BJP.
The Manch plans to organise 12 public meetings across the state and a road show culminating in a grand rally at Ahmedabad ahead of the upcoming assembly polls.
“In all these rallies we are going to take the BJP-RSS head on, expose every one of their anti-democratic moves in the past twenty-two years and lay bare their thoroughly anti-people policies,” Mevani said.
Around 25 supporters helped raise the first Rs 50,000 within hours of Mevani launching his crowdfunding campaign.
“While winning the Gujarat election is important, what is more important is the autonomy and complete freedom of the Dalit movement, which can only happen if our movement stays away from political or corporate funding,” said Mevani.
Mevani has resorted to online crowdfunding to support his campaigns in Gujarat on two previous occasions.
The first time was in 2016, through crowdfunding platform Bitgiving, but this crowdfunding campaign was cancelled by the platform for not meeting their community standards. However, a subsequent attempt in July 2017 on another platform, CrowdNewsing, helped Mevani raise Rs 60,000 to fund his Azadi Kooch campaign. The crowdfunding page shows the details of all contributions in real time.
You can view the campaign here.