Thanks to the general elections, daily wage earners and jobless poor have their hands full of work. They are much sought after by political parties to participate in rallies taken out to file nomination papers, public meetings, and campaigning for party nominees. The larger their number the greater is the ‘success’ of the rally or campaign, and better are the prospects of the candidate or party concerned.
“We are given Rs.200 (each participant) in addition to a biryani packet for participating in rallies (half day),” says Ramanamma, a domestic help living at a slum near the Marripalem National Highway, who had participated in a nomination rally recently.
Thankfully, there is “no discrimination” in the wage rate on the basis of gender or age. Daily wage labourers prefer the ‘election work’ to the toil for the whole day, as they earn more or less the same amount. Political leaders are not sparing even those idling away their time on the road and are seeking their participation in the rallies Autorickshaw drivers are finding it lucrative to operate their vehicles in nomination rallies and for ‘election work’ of different political parties. They are being paid Rs.500 per day in addition to fuel charges and incidental expenses. “The drivers see it as a viable alternative to operating vehicles as ‘share auto’ all through the day,” says a woman passenger. Youngsters participating in rallies on motorcycles are promised tank-full of petrol in addition to other fringe benefits. Will the leaders and parties reach out to the poorer sections after the elections is anybody’s guess.