Congress Ran Out of Money, Votes in Ma­ha­rash­tra

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kr­ishna.The­var@ times­

Mum­bai: It’s not just in­fight­ing with­inthep­ar­tythathas­cost­theCongress dear­inMa­ha­rash­tra­mu­nic­i­pal­body elec­tions. Even a funds crunch has proved costly.

Congress can­di­dates from across the state said they weren’t sup­ported fi­nan­cially by the party this time, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for them to meet poll ex­penses.

“Yes,iti­safactwe­havenot­been­paid any money dur­ing this elec­tion and this has been a fac­tor as not ev­ery party can­di­date is rich; there are many who need our sup­port and it played a part in our dis­mal per­for­mance,” said a se­nior leader.

Thep­ar­tyusu­ally­sup­port­sitscan­di­date fi­nan­cially by re­leas­ing money from its funds. The amount de­pends on the cat­e­gory of the con­stituency and the back­ground of the can­di­date. For in­stance, in an A cat­e­gory con­stituency where it has a high-pro­file nom­i­nee, the party gives ₹ 10 lakh. In ‘B’ cat­e­gory seats, it is ₹ 5 lakh, while in ‘C’,theamount­comes­downto ₹ 2lakh.

“It­might­not­seemahugeamountto many, but it comes in handy for many can­di­dateswhodon’thavethe­money. We need to pay our vol­un­teers for food, travel (and to) polling agents — all these cost money,” said a Congress can­di­date from Mum­bai who lost in the re­cent elec­tion. “When you are fight­ing can­di­dates who are spend­ing crores, ev­erypen­ny­counts.”

A se­nior Congress leader said the state lead­er­ship ex­pressed their in­abil­ity to pay and asked the party’s dis­trict pres­i­dents to see that the can­di­dates were paid in their con­stituen­cies.But­most­dis­trictlead­ers did not pay, said can­di­dates.

“On an in­di­vid­ual level, many se­nior lead­ers paid a few can­di­dates in con­stituen­cieswhereif thecan­di­date had lost, then their (the se­nior lead­ers’) own pres­tige was at stake,” said a state Congress leader.

Ques­tions are be­ing asked as to how the Congress is hav­ing a funds crunch just a lit­tle over two years af­ter it lost power in the state . “We have been in power in the state for more than a decade and it’s just been slightly more than two years that we have been out of power. So it’s sur­pris­ing how things have come to such a pass. Ear­lier, even zilla parishad can­di­dates used to be paid lakhs by the party to con­test,” said a leader.

In spite of re­peated at­tempts, state Congress chief Ashok Cha­van was not avail­able to com­ment. Mum­bai Congress chief San­jay Niru­pam­con­firmedthep­ar­ty­did­not as­sist its can­di­dates fi­nan­cially this time. “Those seek­ing Congress tick­etswere­toldthree­month­spri­or­tothe polls that the party can’t help them fi­nan­cially due to a funds crunch,” he said. “We had 18 MPs, we had MLAs and we were in power. Now the sit­u­a­tion is not the same.”

Ear­lier, even zilla parishad can­di­dates used to be paid lakhs by the party to con­test

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