BARIPADA: At a time when nominees backed by various political parties try to woo the electorate with cash, liquor and other freebies, an independent candidate contesting in the urban elections from the district has come up with a different approach.
Sukumar Ranjan Pradhan of Ward 19 under Baripada municipality, contesting as an Independent for the chairperson post, is collecting Rs 5 from each voter while giving his pushing card during door-to-door canvassing.
The reason: Potential voters can express grievances which wouldn’t be possible if they took money from contestants to lend support, points out Sukumar.
“Every political party gives money to its candidates who distribute the same among people to garner support and buy votes. Once a voter takes money, he has to remain tight-lipped about civic concerns. This trend is an attack on democracy,” said the 42-year-old who wishes to bring about more accountability of elected representatives through his strategy.
His method has also instilled confidence among voters across the 28 Wards. Kuntala Nandi from Ward 27 said Sukumar has raised issues like traffic, drainage and renovation of ponds which were neglected since long and some of them had even been addressed after he staged a dharna. “When he collects funds, Sukumar is accountable to the voter and the latter also knows for the purpose for which he has given the money,” she said.
Hiralal Ghantiyali from Ward 15 also came out in favour of Sukumar’s way of campaigning hoping that it would instill a more democratic spirit among all stakeholders during elections. A social activist, Sukumar believes his method will send out a good message by ushering in transparency.
“When voters give me Rs 5 in lieu of my pamphlet, it serves two goals - they can talk about their grievances without any fear and that money can be used later for development works in the municipality,” he said. Sukumar started his canvassing two weeks back. He wishes to address issues like drainage, road and drinking water supply in the wards if he is voted.