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TMC member Saket Gokhale under fire for crowdfunding ‘Rs 76 lakh’, claims it was ‘like salary’

Several Twitter users are calling for accountability for the alleged Rs 76 lakh raised by him through a crowdfunding account in 2019. He says this is ‘coordinated IT cell attacks’.

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New Delhi: Activist and Trinamool Congress (TMC) member Saket Gokhale has come under fire for a crowdfunding campaign that he began in 2019. 

Gokhale joined TMC in August last year, saying that the party takes an “aggressive” stand on issues. In his profile shared by TMC, he was reportedly described as a transparency investigator, social activist and a former foreign correspondent of a newspaper.

However, over the past two days, several Twitter users demanded accountability for the alleged Rs 76 lakh raised by him through a crowdfunding account he started nearly three years ago. 

In response, Gokhale has claimed that the funds were raised for his “sustenance” — “like a salary to be able to do my work full-time”.

Speaking to ThePrint, Gokhale refused to comment on the allegations. “Please ask me if you have any questions about the Trinamool’s election campaign in Goa. I have no time to indulge in responding to coordinated IT cell attacks and neither am I a story,” he said.

Also read: TMC-MGP alliance promises credit facility up to Rs 20 lakh sans collateral for Goan youths ahead of polls

How it started

In August 2019, Gokhale had tweeted a crowdfunding link, saying that he has filed a public interest litigation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Supreme Court and that along with this, he has been “fighting on multiple fronts on my meager savings”.

“Without ur support (small or big), I can’t keep fighting alone & breaking down walls. And I’m not ashamed to ask for help bcoz none of this is personal (sic),” the Twitter thread had claimed, adding that “every rupee counts & I produce an account of every rupee spent”.

In November 2019, he tweeted out an appeal once again, saying that he “gave up a cushy job to fight the BJP/RSS”. He asked for support, asserting that it will “not only help pay the bills but also allow me to widen the scope of what I’ve been doing & do it more relentlessly”.

With the crowdfunding link was a message saying: “If you believe I’m fighting a battle that’s worth fighting, pls contribute here (sic)”.

‘Milked Modi hatred to buy a luxurious lifestyle’

While the crowdfunding links in the tweets aren’t functional anymore, Twitter users have claimed that Gokhale has since raised over Rs 76 lakh.

In February 2020, Gokhale had acknowledged having raised over Rs 22 lakh through the fundraiser.

Several Twitter users have now unleashed an attack on Gokhale for the funds raised by him and the lack of accountability around it. 

While one Twitter user wrote that Gokhale “milked your Hindu/Modi hatred to buy himself a luxurious life”, another dubbed Gokhale as “the conman who conned the entire Left ecosystem”, and a third one called it a “sad day for Kranti”.

Another Twitter user claimed that “Gokhale monetised the frustration of Modi-haters”.

‘Attack an activist when he joins a political party’

In his defense, Gokhale tweeted that when he first raised funds, “the page clearly stated that it was for my sustenance to do my work full-time without a job (not for Rs. 10 RTI expenses)…I raised funds for my sustenance – like a salary to be able to do my work full-time (sic)”. 

“The kind people who supported me are aware of it. You don’t promise ‘audited accounts’ for your monthly life expenses,” he added.

Gokhale further alleged the criticism on his crowdfunding actually began after he lodged a complaint and demanded immediate action against organisers and speakers of a Dharma Sansad held in Haridwar last month, against hate speeches allegedly made against a community.

“So it started with me being the 1st person to go beyond outrage & file a complaint. And when I pointed that out against allegations of my party ‘doing nothing’, it was conveniently diverted to something else,” Gokhale explained.

However, poet and writer Hussain Haidry pointed out that the complaint was not made on TMC letterhead. 

Haidry also lashed out at Gokhale for the lack of accountability over the funds raised. 

In his tweets, Gokhale also claimed that he had deactivated his crowdfunding account around mid-2020. However, another Twitter user claimed that the account was still active until last year.

Also read: Only 1 woman MP in 31-member Parliament panel to examine bill to raise legal marriage age


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