Clearly, some of Indian democracy’s traditions die hard
Taking advantage of the heavy deployment in and around polling booths, supporters of candidates scrambled on Sunday to buy votes in several places in the city.
Two such incidents occurred in Jeevan Bima Nagar. In the first, to which this reporter was witness, party workers canvassing for BJP candidate from C.V. Raman Nagar S. Raghu gave Rs. 200 to each voter in the narrow 10th cross of Anandapuram slum near the Ambedkar statue at around 10.30 a.m. A police team, stationed just a 50 m away, merely turned a blind eye.
At around 5 p.m., these party workers were further emboldened and started distributing money openly near the main bus stop at Jeevan Bima Nagar. The police bestirred themselves and randomly swung their lathis to chase them away instead of apprehending them.
At Corporation Colony in Jayanagar, Congress activists intercepted a white hatchback car which was being allegedly used by JD (S) activists to distribute money. They handed over the suspects to the Tilaknagar police who booked a case against them and told The Hindu they seized Rs. 59,000 from them. “The police have siphoned off most of the money. We had found Rs. 5 lakh in the vehicle,” alleged Youth Congress activist Prashant Kumar.
In Gandhinagar, residents said that every week for the past month, members of several political parties have been plying them with saris, cash (which was distributed like weekly wages over the weekend) and even liquor.
In Banashankari III Stage, a woman who irons clothes for a living, claimed that she had been given Rs. 500 and provided with transport to cast her vote in Kumbalgod. She had already voted in Banashankari and managed to erase the indelible ink using bleaching powder and phenyl.
In fact, the women were angry that for the past two weeks, the free flow of liquor has encouraged their husbands’ drinking habit. Bhagyalakshmi, a resident of ST Colony in Okalipuram, said that thanks to the liquor many men in her neighbourhood had stopped going for work. “Why work, they are asking, when there’s enough liquor flowing around, and money is being handed out,” she said.
While she is open about her contempt for this, she makes no bones about the fact that she too has queued up for money and a sari. Both Saturday night and early Sunday, some distribution of money was happening in her neighbourhood, she said. Her sister Nagi says that people do not think it is a bad thing to take the money, because it is “an old practice”.
“The politicians spend all this money now, and then spend the remaining time recovering it by participating in various forms of corruption,” she said, adding that ultimately whom she votes for is entirely her choice, so why deny herself some money.