Cash for Vote: TN authorities on high alert on eve of urban local body polls

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The Tamil Nadu police are on high alert following state intelligence tip-offs that huge amount of money is changing hands on the eve of urban local body elections in the state scheduled on Saturday.

The State Election Commission (SEC) has deployed more flying squads in each ward to prevent the transfer of money and other gifts like saris, household utensils, and even anklets to get the ‘precious’ vote.

With a very low margin of victory in urban local body elections witnessed in recent times, political parties are leaving no stone unturned to garner maximum votes.

Uma Maheswari, a political analyst and professor of political science at a private college in Chennai, told IANS, “The state machinery must wake up from its slumber and catch hold of anyone who is giving cash for votes. Democracy will turn into a farce if this is not curbed. Information I received on Friday morning has revealed that money is changing hands across Tamil Nadu.”

SEC sources told IANS that a joint operation of police, revenue, and election commission officials is being carried out and the number of flying squads has been increased to prevent money from changing hands.

R. Nagarajan, President of Pammal Resident Association, told IANS, “Political parties are indulging in bribing even resident association members. I have complained to the police and poll panel authorities. Even now it is happening without any hindrance.”

Several anti-corruption activists have also shot off letters and e-mails to the SEC and the police regarding money being given to some resident associations as part of the last-moment vote garnering efforts.

A senior IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, who is serving in Chennai, told IANS, “Money is changing hands. Moreover, this time, other than saris and different gift items, they are giving gift coupons which can be redeemed. The police have crackdown on several people and more than Rs 1.5 crore has been seized from Chennai itself in the last few days. But this phenomenon is taking place across Tamil Nadu and the police are trying their best to arrest the culprits.”

He also said that both the ruling and the opposition parties are blatantly engaged in bribing people for votes.

In another interesting turn of events, some party cadres met people in the residential colonies and told them that they would provide each family with health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh after they win the polls.

Provisions are also being distributed in colonies and other than directly supplying kits, political parties are indulging in providing coupons that could be redeemed in exchange for household provisions.

While the police and SEC officials claim that they are cracking down on those who indulge in corrupt activities, exchange of money is taking place unabated in Tamil Nadu on the eve of urban local body polls.

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