Bellary: Liquor is passé. Now television sets and mobiles are being offered to voters in neigbhouring Andhra Pradesh, drawing Telugus living in towns bordering it in Karnataka, like bees to honey these Lok Sabha elections.
While those attending public meetings of leaders in the contest are paid a few hundred rupees, a vote cast in their favour could be rewarded with handsome gifts or a few thousand rupees.
While traditionally liquor is distributed in rural areas to woo voters, these elections TV sets, mobiles and even refrigerators are being offered to woo them. Village youth are being offered bikes to get 100 to 200 votes and leaders, new jeeps along with cash to get 200 to 1000 votes for their respective candidates.
Not surprisingly, labourers who migrated to the state from neighbouring Ananthapur, Kurnool and Mehaboob Nagar have returned home and others who made daily trips to Bellary, Raichur and Chitradurga from bordering villages and towns of AP to eke out a living, have stopped coming since a fortnight.
The result? Building and road construction in towns bordering Andhra Pradesh has almost come to a halt in the state. Labour contractors blame it on the simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly scheduled to be held in undivided Andhra Pradesh on April 30 in Telangana and on May 7 in Seemandhra. It’s not just the labourers who have returned home, but also landlords from Andhra Pradesh villages who had moved to towns in Karnataka for their children’s education or business, clearly in the hope of receiving a whole lot of goodies these elections.
Although the EC has asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to keep track of money flow as well during the elections, cash is being transferred through online banking, in ambulances, and by women in buses and cars, say sources.
In some towns, money reaches voters in tiffin boxes, they reveal. That money is playing a big role in AP elections this year is evident from the fact that it accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the unaccounted cash seized so far from across the country.