Parties See Children as Safe and Strong Brigade for Campaign
By J Shanmugha Sundaram | Published: 19th April 2014 07:42 AM |
Leaving no stone unturned to romp home in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the State, several political parties have roped in boys, many as young as 12, to boost their final phase of campaigning.
For political parties, these energetic boys are a vital cog in their campaign strategy. “They do not complain unlike party cadre and enjoy the campaign,” said an NDA campaign manager in Vellore. The boys are effective in carrying out door-to-door distribution of pamphlets as well. “They really enjoy themselves, whistle, shout slogans, play instruments and dance to draw the attention of the public. They are the whole package that any party needs during the election campaign,” said a DMK functionary.
The young campaigners get paid anywhere between Rs 50 and Rs 150 and two square meals, compared to Rs 300 for adults for eight hours of campaigning. “The political parties view these children as cheap labour. There is nothing to stop these parties from exploiting the kids. There is no difference between child labour and this,” said a teacher at a government school in Katpadi.
Some of these children are sons of party men who bring them along to get double the amount for eight hours of campaigning — from 7 am to 10 am and 3 PM to 8 PM. “They come on their own. We do not compel them,” said a DMDK worker in charge of campaigning in Vellore.
For these boys, most of who hail from poor families, campaign work is a golden opportunity to earn a quick buck. “I enjoy going around the town in campaign vehicles. I earn much more than what I made last summer working in a mechanic shop,” said a 14-year-old boy, who campaigned for BJP candidate A C Shanmugam at Velapadi.
Convenor of TN Rights Observatory K Shanmugavelayutham said he has filed a complaint with the State Election Commission.
Parties Using Kids in Campaigns Will Face EC Music
With increasing instances of children participating in election campaign, the election commission seems to have taken cognizance of the issue. Chief Election Officer Praveen Kumar on Friday assured that action would be taken against political parties if complaints were received and any such charge is proved. Read More