Nizamabad: Throwing all rules to the winds and subverting the model code of conduct, a prominent political party distributed copious amounts of cash among poor voters to ‘buy’ their mandate in the bypolls scheduled for Tuesday.
Slum-dwellers who came home after their day’s work were thrilled to find a Rs 1,000 note attached to the voter slips dropped through their doors and windows.
The constituency is witnessing a prestigious battle between the APCC president, Mr D. Srinivas, the BJP’s Mr E. Lakshm-inarayana and the Telugu Desam candidate, Mr Narsa Reddy.
Interestingly, none of the political parties have bothered to complain about the cash gifts given by their rivals since they don’t want to earn the ire of poverty-stricken voters who are happy at the windfall.
Not only that, heavy betting worth lakhs of rupees is also on among bookies on who will be the winner, with most plumping in favour of Mr Srinivas. Betting is also on in Mancherial and Sirpur constituencies.
The ‘free cash gift’ is the animated topic of discussion in every locality, roadside tea stalls, hotels and offices on election eve.
Some poor families have used the cash to clear their petty debts while others made essential purchases. Free liquor has also reached most ‘eligible’ voters.
“They have distributed Rs 1,000 per household along with voters slip,” said Mr Ramulu, a labourer with family of six, while talking to this correspondent.
Distribution of cash and liquor is unabated despite ‘strict’ police supervision in the entire town. In fact, there have even been complaints about ‘bias’ in the distribution of cash with some ‘beneficiaries’ saying that it was not fair to give Rs 1,000 to a family of two as well as a family of six.
It is learnt that leaders had also paid each self-help group Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 depending on their strength and had also gifted amounts ranging up to Rs 5 lakh to caste organisations. In some areas, SHGs got up to Rs 20,000
Mr Sattaiah, who lives in a weaker section colony, was heard complaining to a party leader that 150 households had been missed in cash distribution. “They are our pucca voters and we will lose them if you don’t provide cash,” he warned openly.
The cash distribution has been done carefully through trusted local leaders and family members. Different brands of liquor were sent to caste organisations, youth clubs and trade unions.
“Our youth club got Rs 20,000 from a candidate,” said Mr Narasimlu, a resident of Ambedkar Colony. “We distributed the amount to all the members proportionately.”
Those members of the youth club who took part in the campaign got Rs 200 per day, apart from biriyani and beer. “We have never enjoyed such luxury,” he said.
Ms Sulochana, a housewife of Kotagally, said that her family earned good money in the run-up to the polls. “My husband and son took part in the campaign,” she said. “Such bypolls will give us some relief from financial difficulties.”
She also added a rider, “But money will not have any impact on our vote. We will vote as we wish.” So the voter does have the last word.