Hyderabad: Membership drives have become a revenue generation source for political parties. The membership drive is a mass contact programme to explain the policies and programmes of the party to the people, by going door to door.
Some political leaders do not take the bother, and merely write down names of people on the voters’ list as members and pay the fee themselves.
The TRS has started a membership drive last Thursday. The BJP and Telugu Desam will start their effort to increase membership in the first week of July.
In the TRS, ordinary members have to pay Rs 30 each and active members Rs 130 against Rs 5 and Rs 100 in the Congress. In the TD, all members have to pay Rs 100. It is free in the BJP.
To become an active member in the party, an activist should enrol 100 members and pay Rs 350. Active members are eligible to apply for party tickets in elections to the local bodies, Assembly and the Lok Sabha.
The TRS has decided on a target of one crore and the BJP, 30 lakh. Usually, political parties fix the targets for MLAs and other important leaders. The latter have to purchase membership books, another sources of money generation.
The practice is that leaders and MLAs hand over the books to their followers to enrol members. They have to go door to door and enrol people who are willing to join. In actual practice, most of them just sit in their rooms and write the names after going through the voters’ list.
Political parties set up separate cells to check membership randomly. When TPCC leaders checked some memberships they were shocked to find members of the TRS, BJP, TD and other parties enrolled as Congress members. During the Rajiv Gandhi period, the Congress found that about 60 per cent of the membership across the country was bogus.