Several leaders as well as BJP workers working and campaigning on the ground are banking on local donations.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that is for the first time giving a direct fight to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the panchayat polls to be held in West Bengal on 14 May, is facing a funds crunch at the district and block levels, according to several leaders working on the ground.
Several leaders as well as BJP workers who are working and campaigning on the ground for the panchayat elections are banking on local donations and mostly contributions from their own members for conducting rallies and other election activities being organised by the party, according to several BJP leaders in Bengal that this correspondent spoke to.
A BJP functionary from Bengal campaigning for the panchayat elections told The Sunday Guardian: “We have not been given any funds to carry out campaigning activities. Whatever we get as donations from the local people, we have been utilising that; rest all the members along with the candidates contribute money from their own pockets to organise rallies and other campaigning activities.”
Another leader said that they even have to buy flags for putting up in their local areas during election time, from the state BJP office.
“We only got some 100 flags from the state BJP office as allowance. That is not enough for covering even half of the area of a candidate. We need to show the presence of the party in the area; only then would common voters realise the strength of the party. Leave alone flags, even for posters and hoardings, either the candidates or the local unit are contributing towards installing them in his or her area. The Bharatiya Janata Party here has no funds at all. Even for organising a small rally, we need to collect money from our own members,” a BJP leader from North 24 Parganas district told The Sunday Guardian.
However, senior leaders from the Bengal unit of the BJP said that the state unit is itself facing a cash crunch as funds in the state unit’s coffers are not enough to fund every candidate contesting the panchayat polls.
On the condition of anonymity, a senior state leader of the BJP told The Sunday Guardian: “The state unit also does not have enough funds to give to every candidate. We are doing whatever we can do. Elections are a time when everybody contributes for the welfare of the party. We, at the state level, are doing whatever is possible for the candidates.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, said that the “unconditional” support from the common masses for the party has been growing even in the rural areas of the state where the BJP was earlier seen to be weak due to the lack of a strong organisational infrastructure.