It's high time voters reject inducements: TRS Sirpur campaign manager
Besides results, the high election expenditure of candidates in the just concluded byelections has become an issue of debate among politicians of all hues in Adilabad.
Second rung leaders wonder whether they stand any chance of contesting an election in future if the demand for campaign expenditure runs into several crores of rupees.
The byelections to Sirpur, Chennur (SC) and Mancherial constituencies will go down in the history as the first in the district wherein individual votes were purchased. The cumulative expenditure of front line candidates is said to have run into about Rs. 15 crore of which as much as Rs. 10 crore were spent just by one contestant.
The fear of this trend being established as a benchmark for the elections in future is what worries leaders who are keen on elected posts. K. Srihari Rao of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), who was the campaign manager in Sirpur constituency in the byelections says the trend to spend huge sums of money during elections will work against leaders who are in politics to serve people.
“Entry of contractors and businessmen in politics sometime in the 1970s has introduced the use of money to influence voters. It is high time the voters rejected bribes and inducements during elections”, observes Mr. Srihari Rao while suggesting an effective way to curb extra large election expenditures.
Spent Rs. 300 in '60s
“In my time, voters did not prefer rich leaders. They sided with those who did not mind personal sacrifice to serve people at large,” recalls Vittal Rao Deshpande, Adilabad MLA between 1962 and 1967 who claims to have spent just Rs. 300 for his election.
He says the use of money to shape the course of elections began once the influence of Gandhians and freedom fighters began waning.
“The idea of leaders contacting voters individually is perhaps when monetary incentives came into play,” he feels.
Observers remember the trend of door-to-door canvassing being introduced by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders in 1983. Prior to that, only village elders used to be contacted by candidates to seek their support.
It was, however, in the 1985 municipal elections in Adilabad that money was used for the first time, even if in a different way.
A leading candidate had openly purchased the voter ID cards from the supporters of his opponents to prevent them from exercising franchise!