It is not easy to escape the vigilant eyes of the election authorities and woo voters with inducements, and so, politicians in many areas are using members of self-help groups (SHGs) as their “foot-soldiers”.
The modus operandi is simple, like the one adopted by a political party at Gillisugur in Raichur Rural Assembly constituency.
It is an open secret there that the party has “booked” the services of at least five SHGs whose responsibility is to “reach out” to all the voters and canvass for the party candidates.
Though SHG members are reluctant to talk about it, it is believed that every SHG, depending on the number of members, are paid between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
Another favourite spot for the political parties to spread their messages in the annual fairs and car festivals usually held during the months of April and May in north Karnataka.
A senior leader of a political party, who did not want his name, said that the political parties were left with very little options to canvass and the annual car festivals and fairs, where a large section of the people converge, is one good opportunity. Here too politicians have to be “discreet” because they are banned from using the premises of a religious institution to canvass.
The professional dramas played during the annual fairs and car festivals in villages are another opportunity for the political parties to use the medium to appeal to the voters.
Village people watching the play are often surprised to hear a line smuggled into the play saying how a certain candidate is “good” and deserves the vote of the villagers.
However, the authorities have issued ban orders against performance of dramas in a few places following complaints from the general public about its “misuse” for propaganda by the political parties.