Breakfast, lunch, liquor plus cash for men in Tumkur

That crowds are hired to ‘people’ a meeting or take part in rallies is well-known. What is not so common is when the hired crowds get short-changed by middlemen.

Touts typically visit slums and identify those willing to be hired. But those selected feel exploited as, according to them, the touts pay just about half of what they get from the candidates.

Bibijaan and Gulnaz Begum, middle-aged beedi workers from Shivanahalli in Rajajinagar Assembly constituency, who have been following the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KPJ) candidate Shobha Karandlaje, said they are paid Rs. 200 a day. “We are poor beedi workers and have stopped rolling beedis for the last 10 days hoping to make more money through this route. We found out that the person who brought us here collects Rs. 500 from Shobha madam for each one of us. But what he gives us is a mere Rs. 200 each,” the women said. These women wanted to tell Ms. Karandlaje that the money was not reaching the campaigners. Garment and other factory workers, domestic help and even housewives in slums are making the best use of election campaigning. Abdul Razack, an assistant manager of a polythene factory in Kumbalgod Industrial Estate, said he had been approached by a local leader to lend the services of the 230 employees in the factory. “He promised to pay Rs. 200 to each worker apart from lunch. They also gave me an idea to cite power failure as the reason for loss of production to the factory owner. The workers were also eager to go. But I refused permission,” he said.

Shashirekha Hiremath, a domestic help in Kempapura near Hebbal, who has seen her neighbours earn good money, thanks to the campaign, regrets she cannot do the same as she has two children.

Meal with benefits

Tumkur Staff Correspondent reports:

Construction workers are making job switches. With political parties offering more than the daily wage for campaigners, many unorganised workers are abandoning their occupations to earn some extra cash.

Construction workers and labourers work more than eight hours to earn Rs. 350 per day (men) and Rs. 200 (women). But election campaigns work out to be more lucrative as door-to-door campaigning for a few hours will fetch them Rs. 400 per day. Men get it with breakfast, lunch and liquor.

There is no loyalty in this business, of course, and one often sees the same faces in campaigns of several parties.

Manjunath, a farmer from Muddenahalli in Tumkur taluk, said: “There are no jobs in the villages as there is drought. What is wrong in participating in rallies and making some money?”

Chairman of People’s Union for Civil Liberties K. Dorairaj told The Hindu that using people for campaigns during elections must be considered as a corrupt practice by the Election Commission.

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