Saris, mobiles, shoes, TVs: Voters get all for free as polls approach

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana prepare to go to polls from November 12 to December 7, the race between political parties for increasing their vote bank begins. The easiest and most popular way being giving free gifts to people.

Until the announcement of poll dates on Saturday, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana have distributed or announced to distribute mobiles, saris and other gifts worth Rs 3,000 crore for free.

Although experts agreed that it’s wrong to distribute gifts such as TV, Sim, smartphone etc, they said those schemes which directly benefit the people, like providing gram to the tribal families in Chhattisgarh at the rate of Rs 5 per kg, can be beneficial.

‘Such things divert people’s attention’

Sanjay Kumar, director of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), says political parties indulge in such tactics as even 2%-3% votes can make all the difference. Such things divert people’s focus from main issues. Tamil Nadu has an old history of giving free gifts to people to win votes.

‘It is like like giving bribe for the sake of votes’

Trilochan Singh, founder and chairman of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said, “This should not happen, but all parties do this. It is like like giving bribe for the sake of votes. The governments should announce plans that will bring about permanent changes in the lives of the poor and generate employment.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced to give Rs 28 crore to 28,000 Durga Puja Committees. On Friday, the Calcutta High Court banned donations.

How they lure voters?

  • Madhya Pradesh government distributed shoes, saris worth Rs 100 crore among tribals and tendu leaf collectors.
  • Acting CM of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, planned to distribute 96 lakh saris worth Rs 280 crores during Bathukamma festival on October 12 but the Election Commission did not allow.
  • DMK distributed over 1.52 crore TVs between 2006 and 2010.
  • Chhattisgarh government has announced to provide land pattas to 50 lakh rural and urban population.
  • In UP, 15 lakh laptops were distributed between 2012 and 2015.
  • Rajasthan government has announced to give free mobiles to over one crore poor.
  • Chhattisgarh government will give free smartphones to 55 lakh people.