KHAMMAM: Overwhelming. That’s one word being thrown around by all political parties to describe people’s response to their respective election campaigning. Of course, they have numbers (read crowds at the public meetings) to back their claims.
But one thing that they will not reveal is that overwhelming response has come at a ‘cost’.
According to analysts, the campaigning for December 7 elections, which ended on Wednesday, has thrown up an interesting fact. Unlike in the past elections, this time around people showed little interest in parties’ campaigns, especially in attending the public meetings. That forced the political parties to resort to money distribution to get the venues filled.
For instance, in 10 Assembly constituencies of Khammam and Bhadradri Kothagudem districts, where TRS and People’s Front candidates are the main contenders, candidates reportedly paid between 200 and 500 per person per day to participate in the campaigning tours as well as road shows and public meetings.
And if one has to believe the sources, what the parties and their candidates spent so far is just a fraction of the ‘funds’ they have set aside for the elections this time.
With campaigning officially ending and the D-day fast approaching, the candidates in these two districts are set to compete with each other in splurging cash and to lure the voters.
According to sources, one candidate, who had a successful campaign in 2014, has this time set aside 7 crore to be distributed during the two days before and on all-important day of elections. In one of the constituencies of Khammam, TRS candidate is offering 2,000 to 3,000 per voter while a People’s Front candidate is giving 1,000 to 1,500. With each passing moment, the candidates are competing with each other and rising the amount. One candidate has started offering 2,000 after being informed of a rival’s plan to better his offering of 1,500.
Some candidates who were allotted tickets after much persuasion and several recommendations are under pressure to win their respective seats and such contestants, though the exact figures of are not available, are parting with even larger amounts to lure the voters, with the ultimate objective of pleasing their top leaders by showing good results. Unfortunately, the expectations of the voters too are on the rise and some are accepting money from multiple candidates.
For instance, K Rama Rao, a daily labourer, said that “one party has given him 1,500 and another party 2,000” for casting his vote in their favour.
N Venkata Laxmi, a house maid, who also received money from two parties said that money distribution is rampant in most of the colonies in Khammam town.
But how are the candidates managing to hoodwink the EC, and police while distributing the money. Of course, they know how to get around these agencies and each party or candidate has developed its own unique method.
For example, one candidate in Khammam is following a system that ensures proper distribution of money to the ‘real voter’. First one batch of his followers visit a house and hand over a 10 note per head. Later another group reaches the place gives 2,000 and takes back the 10 notes, which will be returned to their leader. “This system ensures that money is reaching the real voter and it also confirms to our candidate that the money is being distributed and not held back by us,” said a worker of a party in Khammam.