The Ajit Jogi-led Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) is raising funds for the party by holding paid dinners for its patrons and supporters, an exercise clearly inspired by US presidential candidates and Aam Aadmi Party president Arvind Kejriwal.

The first of such dinners, “An evening with Jogi” was held last week at a five-star hotel in Raipur where 100 guests paid Rs 11,000 per head to interact with Ajit Jogi over dinner.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Jogi, who was the first Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, said that the idea to raise funds for the party came from the American political system which was also followed by Kejriwal. “We are a new party which is challenging a party that has been in power for 14 years now. We thought why not use this kind of interaction to raise funds. The American politicians charge more than $1,000 per person; I have kept it at Rs 11,000. The response of the meet in Raipur was beyond our expectations. We had a limit of 100, but we got requests from more than that. Following this, we have received a proposal from Washington, US where one of our supporters has said that he wants to hold a similar dinner there. We will take a call on this very soon,” Jogi said.

The second such dinner will be held in Raipur on 19 January, after which the party will be organising a similar events in Bilaspur, Durg, Korba and Rajnandgaon.

According to Jogi, who will be battling two political fronts, the ruling BJP and his former party, the Congress, the JCC has also launched a website where the party’s supporters can donate money. “A lot of people from Chhattisgarh are settled outside India and many of them keenly follow the politics happening in the state and want to help us. The details of every donor will be shared on the website,” he said. The party plans to organise such events till July-August before the election campaigning kicks off in the state. “More than 2,000 people had expressed their intention to be a part of the meet but our idea is to interact with everyone personally, hence, we have kept the guest list limited to 100,” a party leader said.

The JCC is hoping to make an impact in at least 45 seats of the 90 Assembly seats in the state, especially the SC (9) and the ST (34) seats that are seen as Jogi loyalists. In the last Assembly elections (November 2013), when Jogi was still a part of the Congress, the party had narrowly missed out from dislodging the Raman Singh-led BJP government. This was attributed to disputes among the Congress leaders.

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