BENGALURU: The hectic bypoll campaign for three seats in Karnataka — Belagavi Lok Sabha and Maski and Basavakalyan assembly seats — draws to a close at 6pm Thursday evening. And then, the ‘night of silence’ begins.
With the election slated for Saturday, political sources say the real action begins now. In what is called the “dark night”, teams fan out discreetly to designated streets and homes, armed with wads of money, to ensure the success of their respective candidates. Sources said all three parties are involved in this activity, and money is distributed stealthily to voters by select teams through the night into the wee hours.
Stealth is of utmost importance, as the teams do not wish to alert the police, Election Commission or IT officials, or the district administration. “The Election Commission will be keeping a close watch from now onwards. The election authorities are keeping 24-hour watch. Observers and staffers are deployed wherever necessary. In Maski, we have three companies of armed KSRP police and extra forces,’’ said Election Commission CEO Sanjiv Kumar. In addition to the EC and observers, the local district administration will also be keeping a close watch on movement of people and money.
While two major parties have only a distribution team, one even has a designated team that goes around after distribution to ensure that the money has not been siphoned off, and has reached the real beneficiaries.
Former senior IAS officer T R Raghunandan, who voluntarily resigned and took up a battle against corruption, said, “Everybody has learnt the game of going through the motions of distribution of money. It goes on in every election with impunity. Drastic problems need drastic remedies, and the only way it can be totally stopped is if elections are stopped -- symbolic vigilance and lack of action renders all systems meaningless.”Sources said the Income Tax authorities are also on tight vigil, and any large withdrawals of money or movement of cash in and around the areas will be watched closely.