A small political party in Bihar is holding a mirror to others in the midst of the debate about electoral bonds and the ethics of large business/industrial houses funding political parties. A crowdfunding initiative, accepting just ₹20 from each family by the CPI(ML)(Liberation) or ‘Maley’ as it is called in Jharkhand and Bihar, is a unique political campaign through which its cadre is busy educating people about how accepting money from large businesses impacts policy-making and governance.

The ‘Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan’ by ‘Maley’ is a campaign that begins with its workers engaging with people about their core problems and educating them about how their party can intervene. A donation of ₹20 is requested to help the party with three main activities during elections — transportation, public rallies and publicity. Maley has 12 MLAs in the Bihar Assembly and one woman member in the Legislative Council. Additionally, they have an MLA in the Jharkhand Assembly. As part of the INDIA bloc, they are contesting three Lok Sabha seats in Bihar — Nalanda, Karakat and Arra. and Koderma Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand. They believe ₹20 from each household is all they need to fight elections.

Mahboob Alam

Mahboob Alam | Photo Credit: @MahboobCPIML/X

Meet Mahboob Alam, a footsoldier of Maley’s rag-tag army, who is among the poorest MLAs in the Bihar assembly with a kaccha hut for a home but the highest margin of victory in the last assembly elections.

Alam believes that you do not need “millions from the rich” to win the “hearts of the poor”. “What we need in this country is a new kind of politics. When we take money from the big corporates, we become beholden to them. We forget the poor. Poverty should lie at the heart of policy making and if we start tailoring policy in accordance with the wishes of the super rich, we compromise the larger public’s interests. We must never forget that,” Alam told businessline. That is why a token donation of Rs 20, which almost everyone can afford and gives them a stake in the party, is the perfect solution to election funding.

Vinod Kumar Singh

Vinod Kumar Singh | Photo Credit: @vinodbagodar/X

Vinod Kumar Singh, the best ‘Legislator of Year’ in the Jharkhand Assembly in 2022, who is now contesting the Koderma Lok Sabha seat on the INDIA bloc platform, is the foremost campaigner for ‘Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan’.

“At a time when elections have become all about money, we need to further strengthen our connect with the common people, the poor. Our party has always believed in such campaigns and now, more than ever, we need to reaffirm people’s belief in democracy and that it is for them, not only for the rich. When they give us ₹20, they connect with us. They have a stake in our functioning. We become attached. It’s a contract that people expect us to adhere to,” Vinod Singh told businessline from Koderma.

According to Maley General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, it is very important for the Left to set high standards in public life. “The people’s trust has been eroded by the rampant corruption we see all around us. We have never accepted electoral bonds nor do we take money from big corporations. Our work, our life is for the poor, the common people who give us what they can afford and we manage within that,” Bhattacharya said.