VIJAYAWADA: Stating that around Rs 10,000 crore was spent by political parties in the 2019 elections in the State, TDP MP JC Diwakar Reddy said not less than Rs 50 crore was spent in each of the 175 Assembly constituencies to influence voters.
Speaking to media persons in Undavalli on Monday, he said, “Today, an average voter is more interested in how much a party would pay for their vote. They even haggle over it by saying that if one party gave them Rs 2,000, then the other should give at least Rs 2,500.”
“They (the electorate) are not bothered about the welfare measures or development works; all they look for is which party gives them how much. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has initiated 120 schemes, interlinked rivers...and whatnot. But, who appreciated them? Irrespective of parties, all were asked how much were they paying,” he said.
He did not mince words when he said only the Pasupu Kumkuma and old-age pension schemes were enough to help the party win the polls. “If the elections were held a bit early or late, the TDP would have had a tough time,” he added. People are more interested in ‘hot food’ and, if it becomes stale, they forget about it, he remarked. “Luckily, elections were held after Chandrababu Naidu announced his schemes- enhanced old age pensions and Pasupu Kumkuma. Else, people would have forgotten them as well.”
He said even the poor in Rayalaseema demanded money to vote.“Tindi leni na kodukulu mamalni Rs 5,000 demand chesaru. (Those who can’t even afford food demanded Rs 5,000 from us),” he said.Describing himself as a retired politician, he said all the money spent during the elections was corruption money and there was a need to put a check on it.
“Hence I am approaching intellectuals such as Justice Chelameswar, Jayaprakash Narayan of Loksatta, VV Lakshminarayana and others for discussing ways and means to bring down the role of ‘money’ in elections in the next five years,” he said. People will appreciate the move and even the Election Commission should think about it, he added.
To a question that how much did he spend as two persons, which included his son, from his family contested the elections, he initially said Rs 50 crore, but was quick to add that the figure was the expected amount spent by all contestants. “Are you trying to get me into the books of the I-T department? What an idea!” he said and laughed.
JC, as he is popularly known, was candid when he said corruption was prevalent in every government, who were already spending Rs 2,000 crore - Rs 4,000 crore for the next elections. He said he knew some of his friends had distributed Rs 2,500 per postal ballot. Stating that such things needed to end, TDP leader said he was ready to take up the cause starting on May 3 from Hyderabad.