Chennai

R.K. Nagar: where cash flows freely

Tough ask: Despite the crackdown , bribing of voters is still rampant in R.K. Nagar.   | Photo Credit: B_Jothi Ramalingam

The Cochrane Basin Road in Korukkupet is teeming with party cadre. Traffic moves along at a snail’s pace. An autorickshaw stops in the middle of the road. A boy, who happens to be passing by, is beckoned towards the vehicle as we watch the proceedings from a short distance away.

The man inside the vehicle asks the boy something, before handing him some cash. “What did they give you?”, we ask the boy, to which he replies, “That man gave me money”. “Why?” we ask. “He asked me which party did I support and I showed him the ‘two leaves’ symbol. So, he gave me money,” says the boy. When we ask him how much he was paid, he says “40 rupees” and trots off into a nearby crowd campaigning in the narrow bylanes of the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency. In what is turning out to be an acrimonious by-election, we have witnessed at least two such instances where cash has changed hands. Many others abound on social media.

For the residents, it is as if the campaign is a sidelight to their lives, in what has now become an extremely a crowded locality with politicians — both local and from across the State — literally camping and walking around the streets in groups.

As we go further into Ambedkar Nagar, residents say they have heard of money being distributed. “But we have not got anything. We only heard about it,” they say. But there is one resident who is much more specific: “Money is distributed around 4 a.m. and at midnight. People are staying awake to ensure that they don’t miss out on the cash.”

Quick conversations

Conversations happen quickly. A man approaches a group of politicians discussing amongst themselves on the road. In an irritated tone, they ask the man what he wants. He shows them what looks like a piece of paper – this is the booth slip, one party supporter told us. One of the politicians then fumbles in his shirt pocket for some money, and hands it over to the man. All of this is over in less than a minute.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 7:22:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/where-cash-flows-freely/article17899320.ece

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