Cash-Strapped Congress Seeks Rs 50K From Ticket Aspirants For Election Campaign Material In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Facing a fresh Rs 1,823 crore notice from the income tax department, cash-strapped Congress has asked ticket aspirants for the ensuing elections in Odisha to deposit Rs 50,000 each for supply of campaign materials for the polls.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattanayak’s message to the prospective candidates has sparked a buzz in political circles in the state, sources said.

The move comes at a time when the party is desperate to improve its performance in the state amidst shortage of funds and scarcity of election materials.

The OPCC is accepting cheque of Rs 50,000 each from shortlisted candidates on behalf of the party to supply branding and campaign materials of an equivalent value to them, said Pattanayak.
The PCC chief, however, did not disclose the number of shortlisted candidates who paid the amount.

Several aspirants are reported to have already deposited cheques for the stated amount.
While the decision was resented by many aspirants, the state leadership defended the move. A senior leader said it was being demanded so that there is smooth flow of election materials during campaigning. It will also help keep away non-serious aspirants.

Stating that a meeting was held in a Puri hotel where many shortlisted candidates interacted with senior leaders of the party, he said one-to-one meetings were held with the shortlisted candidates where the party discussed election strategies and listened to their ideas on the campaign.

During the visit of national leaders, aspirants complained that there was no campaign material made available to them. The deposit money will be used for that purpose, he said and added the party will supply campaign materials to the candidates from its own fund too. “The cheques will be returned to aspirants who do not get tickets after candidates are finalised,” he said.

Senior Congress leader and MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati justified the decision stating that Congress candidates will have to make certain sacrifices for the party. The cheques are being accepted officially and there is nothing to hide. As the party does not have enough funds, candidates will have to make some sacrifice, he added.

The state unit’s decision comes as the grand old party is at the receiving end of alleged I-T norms violations. The national party’s bank accounts were frozen by the I-T department over alleged income tax default and it was slapped a notice to pay Rs 130 crore.

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