Pressure cookers, saris, steel utensils, waste bins, wall clocks... it’s a veritable shopping list of enticements as MLAs and contenders for the Karnataka Assembly elections have already started “reaching” out to electors.
The Election Commission of India is likely to announce the Assembly polls soon, and with the code of conduct enforced after the announcement, distributing freebies will be far more scrutinised. Instead, before the announcement, hopeful ‘candidates’ from different political parties have begun their ‘ground work.’
“We were surprised when people associated with certain political parties became active in our area. This was not the case earlier. This year, these party men have begun going around asking citizens if they have voters’ identity cards. Not just that, they also verified the list of voters, promising to come back soon with ‘gifts’,” said a resident of Yelahanka.
While the Janata Dal (S) has announced its candidates for a few constituencies, both the Congress and the BJP are yet to do so. Yet, this has not deterred the hopefuls, including sitting MLAs and greenhorns, to try and entice the voters.
Utensils, wall clocks
In Bommanahalli, many citizens received a huge box with the picture of sitting MLA Satish Reddy. Inside it were steel utensils, tiffin boxes, copper lamps, pencil box and a booklet on the BJP. The boxes also bore the name of a realty developer known to be closely associated with the MLA. At Yelahanka, residents were given wall clocks bearing the photo of a candidate, who is lobbying for a ticket from the JD(S). Some residents of an area coming under Gandhinagar constituency received saris through a temple, supposedly sponsored by the sitting MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao.
“Someone claiming to be associated with a particular party came a few weeks ago and took down names of women in the locality. A few days later, we were given tokens and asked to go to a nearby temple on a particular day to collect the saris,” said Jayamma (name changed), a resident of Pipeline Road, coming under Gandhinagar constituency.
It is not just voters who are being enticed. The candidates likely to contest in the polls are also distributing freebies to the grassroots workers of their parties.
N. Manjunath Prasad, commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and District Election Officer, said that for the first time, a vulnerability mapping exercise had been taken up.
As many as 550 teams had been formed to investigate if voters were being influenced.