A crowd-funded electoral battle in Kunnathunadu

Candidate raises deposit through donations from households

It will not be far off from truth to regard the electoral contest of 47-year-old T.A. Abdul Jaleel, an Independent candidate from Pinarmunda ward of Kunnathunadu panchayat, as crowd-funded.

For, the eighth standard dropout took a community route to raise his electoral deposit, collecting donations mostly in coins from 350-odd households in his ward. Since it was not a big drain on their resources and the candidate being a local face, most families did donate as well.

For Mr. Jaleel, better known in the neighbourhood as ‘Anthili’, which also figures in his posters, it helped fell more than two birds with a single shot.

For one, it was an easy way to draw attention for someone who otherwise hardly had the resources to splurge on publicity. “It helped the twin purpose of raising a deposit and an initial round of door-to-door campaign at one go. I could also convince them about the transparency of my fundraising,” said Mr. Jaleel.

While the ploy made perfect sense for him, suffice to say that the electoral officer in Pallikkara panchayat who received his nomination along with the deposit was less than impressed, left as he was with counting all those coins. After the deposit of ₹1,000, Mr. Jaleel was left with ₹283, which he offered in equal lots of ₹94 in a temple, mosque, and a church.

Mr. Jaleel, by his own account, had been a self-confessed Left fellow traveller since his early teens as a school dropout before he decided to change track over the alleged neglect. Contesting as an Independent from the ward where the LDF has fielded a candidate seems to be his way of making a point.

A casual worker out of job at the moment, he has little means to fight a costly electoral battle. “I mainly depend on a few posters and banners sponsored by friends,” he said.

But that did not stop him from bringing out a 27-point manifesto running into two pages featuring, among others, promises ranging from planting trees on roadsides to fighting climate change to the eviction of illegal encroachments.

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