Friday, 20 March 2009

Telugu Desam begs funds from NRIs

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 18: Faced with severe funds crunch this general election,
former chief minister and Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu is
literally begging money from Telugu NRIs settled in about 90 countries to
meet the campaign requirements.

The Telugu Desam, once dubbed as the richest regional political party in the
country, is now hard pressed for funds. Out of power for the last five years,
the party could not get enough financial support from the regular donors. It
has turned its attention on Telugu NRIs to fill up its empty coffers.

"Donate a dollar per Assembly constituency. The State has 294 Assembly
segments. Please donate 294 US dollars," says an appeal put up by the
Telugu Desam on its website meant for NRIs.

To give a charismatic touch to the fund-raising campaign, the Telugu Desam
leadership is circulating the photographs showing party founder NT Rama
Rao with an open bag seeking money from the common masses.

The TD leadership has ensured that the quantum of donation from an
individual NRI does not exceed Rs 20,000 as it would invite the provisions of
FERA. Central government Rules stipulate that any donation above Rs
20,000 has to be accompanied with details of the donor's passport.

Even as the Telugu Desam leadership is seeking fresh round of donations
from the NRIs, those who contributed heavily during the earlier round are
now reportedly bringing pressure on Chandrababu Naidu to give party ticket
to their kin.

The Telugu Desam, however, does not attach much importance to the
criticism generated by the fund-raising programme. "There's nothing wrong
in a political party seeking funds from people and admirers. After all we need
money to run the show," senior TD leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy said.

The TD leadership has drawn up the email addresses of Telugu-speaking
people settled abroad to directly contact them seeking funds. The TD is also
urging the NRI supporters to prevail upon their family members and relatives
in Andhra Pradesh to vote for the Telugu Desam and its political allies.

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