M.T. Shiva Kumar
Bangalore: With elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council less than two months away, the luring of voters with freebies and goodies appears to have begun in earnest in Chandra Layout and surrounding localities of the city.
Few could miss the brand new schoolbags carried by children going to private as well as government schools in the area, sporting the name of the former Minister and BJP leader V. Somanna, who still wields political clout in Govindarajanagar Assembly constituency.
He was routed in the recent Assembly byelections.
The Hindu learnt that followers of Mr. Somanna, who are reportedly eyeing BJP ticket for the BBMP elections, had distributed a large number of schoolbags among students of Chandra Layout and surrounding areas in a bid to influence their parents.
School authorities sought to distance themselves from the exercise by claiming that the bags were distributed outside the school premises.
“We can’t question the students about the matter,” said a teacher of a school near the Siddaganga College road in Chandra Layout.
A senior Congress leader said that luring of voters through their children with goodies was the latest trend. “It was money and liquor in Govindarajanagar Assembly constituency, and now it is schoolbag,” he said. “As the electoral race picks up steam, BJP workers are luring voters with goodies and promises. The party workers have also collected contact details of parents of the children who have been given schoolbags. They have also promised to pay the school fees of the children in the next academic year,” said the Congress leader.
The Congress and Janata Dal (S) workers in the area said officials should visit all schools in the surroundings of Chandra Layout and warn the managements not to entertain such exercises.
Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner C.R. Chikkamath told The Hindu that he had not received any complaint about distribution of schoolbags.
However, Mr. Somanna denied knowledge of distribution of schoolbags or such incentives, but said: “I will instruct my followers to desist from such activities.”