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Business News/ Politics / 'Donate 138, 1,380 or 1,38,000': Congress out to crowdfund as 2024 polls near; don't donate for dynasty, says BJP
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'Donate ₹138, 1,380 or 1,38,000': Congress out to crowdfund as 2024 polls near; don't donate for dynasty, says BJP

Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said the campaign is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's historic 'Tilak Swaraj Fund', which was launched in 1920-21.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leaders KC Venugopal and Arvinder Singh Lovely during the launch of the 'Donate for Desh' crowdfunding campaign, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, December 18, 2023. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)Premium
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leaders KC Venugopal and Arvinder Singh Lovely during the launch of the 'Donate for Desh' crowdfunding campaign, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, December 18, 2023. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

To raise funds ahead of the general election due next year, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge launched the party's crowdfunding campaign 'Donate for Desh' in the national capital and asked people to join the fight against unemployment and rising costs.

As part of the donation, Kharge donated a sum of 1,38,000 from his salary to launch the campaign in the presence of party leaders and general secretaries K C Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh and treasurer Ajay Maken.

"It is a very happy day that our party leaders have prepared an App. I feel this is the first time that the Congress is seeking the help of common people to build the country," he told reporters after the launch.

Kharge mentioned that the party will receive money from small donors, adding, "If you keep working by depending on the rich, then tomorrow we would have to agree to their programmes and policies".

ALSO READ: Ruckus in Lok Sabha: 33 opposition members, including Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, suspended

"Through 'Donate for Desh', we will work to take the country forward by taking help from the general public. Congress always got help from the general public. Mahatma Gandhi also got Independence for the country with the help of the people of the country," he said.

He expected that people would in one or two days voluntarily come forward and donate, he said.

"We will collect donations from common people and join them in this fight. We can assure people that there is only one party which is fighting for the poor," he said.

In a post on X, the Congress said, "Beyond a campaign, it's a commitment to champion the rights of marginalized communities, bridge disparities, and stand as a formidable opposition against a government favouring the affluent".

"Join us in the fight against unprecedented unemployment and rising costs. Stand with the Indian National Congress as it strides beyond its 138th year, stronger and more determined than ever. Be a Changemaker, Contribute," the party said.

138, 1,380 or 1,38,000!

The Congress said that the 'Donate fo Desh' campaign has been launched as the party completes 138 years. Party leader Ajay Maken said anyone can contribute to the party by donating 138, 1,380 or 1,38,000, adding the donor can choose to donate a different amount.

Earlier, KC Venugopal, Congress general secretary, said to the media that the campaign is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's historic 'Tilak Swaraj Fund', which was launched in 1920-21.

Appealing to the people to donate so they can make a better India, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to X and wrote, “You and I together will make a better India."

As per details, the drive will be primarily online till the party's foundation day on 28 December, reported NDTV, following which Congress volunteers will go door-to-door for contributions of at least 138.

This is similar to Congress' outreach-cum-crowdfunding campaign in 2018, which did not gain much momentum.

BJP's reply:

Commenting on Congress' latest campaign, the ruling BJP said those who looted India for 60 years were now out to seek funds and cited the recent massive cash haul example 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," Malviya alleged, adding, "Don't 'Donate for Dynasty".

Dheeraj Sahu case:

Earlier, in the Income Tax department's raids against an Odisha-based distillery firm owned by Sahu's family and linked entities, the agency found a cash mountain of over 351 crore.

On 10 December, Jharkhand Congress in-charge Avinash Pande said that a clarification has been sought from party MP Dheeraj Sahu, reported news agency PTI.

Apart from this, Pandey clarified that is it a private matter of Dheeraj Sahu and the party has nothing to do with it.

According to officials, premises linked to Sahu were also covered as part of the searches by the IT team which recovered a huge pile of cash against Odisha-based Boudh Distillery Private Limited and entities linked to it.

The raids against Boudh Distillery Private Limited, its promoters, and others, launched on December 6 by the taxman on charges of tax evasion, entered the fifth day on 10 December.

In his first media interaction after the IT raids at his premises, the Rajya Sabha MP on 15 December said that only the Income Tax department would decide whether the money recovered was black money or not. He even added that the money has nothing to do with Congress or any other political party.

ALSO READ: ‘Nothing to do with Congress’: MP Dhiraj Sahu's first reaction after record-setting Odisha IT raids unearth 351 crore

“Let the side of the Income Tax Department come whether it is 'Kaala Dhan' or 'Safed Dhan'. I am not in the business line. The members of my family will answer this," he told ANI on Friday.

Technical snag

Meanwhile, reports arrived that within hours of its launch on Monday, the Congress campaign hit a technical roadblock.

The party did not register the domain name before announcing the initiative and clicking DonateforDesh.org takes the visitor to the donation page of the BJP.

Also, another domain in the name of the Donate for Desh campaign has been acquired by the news website OpIndia.

Supriya Shrinate, a Congress leader and the party's social media and digital platforms chairperson, slammed the BJP, accusing it of "copying" it and 'creating fake domains to confuse people'.

"Why is BJP so afraid despite having autocratic power, all institutions, all resources and maximum money? When Congress started the donation campaign, not only did they (BJP) panic but their system also started creating fake domains and confusing them. By the way, thanks for copying us - it's good to see your fear," she posted on X in Hindi.

Congress has set up a different domain by the name https://donateinc.net/ to receive the donations and the official account of the political party has also shared the method of donating online.

With agency inputs.

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Published: 18 Dec 2023, 07:19 PM IST
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