Free rice and TVs are passé; gun licenses as poll sop in UP

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Uttar Pradesh
Allahabad, Jan 6: With Uttar Pradesh steadily becoming a hot bed of activity in anticipation of the upcoming Assembly Elections, all the tricks in the book is being used to woo voters. Among the many goodies doled out to voters are gun licenses as well. This strange offer was made by UP's social welfare minister Indrajeet Saroj who has promised people with gun licenses in exchange for votes.

During the course of his campaigning, Saroj said, "BSP ki sarkar phir aane par gun licence rewadi ke tarah bantey jayenge (If the BSP comes back to power, gun licences would be distributed like sweets)." This is not the first time that this politician has uttered this sort of preposterous proposition. He has helped many in gaining gun licenses and during his campaign he throws around the names as if he has helped achieve a prized posession.

With the poll goodies of free rice and television sets passé, it is gun licenses that has become the new draw in Uttar Pradesh. Officials have revealed that over 1,000 gun licences were issued and over 5,000 applications are pending.

With the necessity of having a gun mandatory in parts of the state where crime rate is on an up swing with every passing day, this offer by politicians seem to be too good to refuse. Last year alone saw, FIR's being registered for 45 murders, 100 loots, two cases of dacoity, 30 rapes and six kidnappings. The district of Kaushambi that was carved out from Allahabad sees increased instances of crime.

Holding of a gun license can also reap rich dividends in the long run with a holder of a revolver or a pistol fetching a salary of Rs 25,000 in Goa; while the holder of a double barrel .12 bore licence getting paid upto Rs 10,000 a month. This is a marked increase from what a labourer or farmer can dream of earning in the village.

For a farmer who wants to increase his standard of living, holding a gun license becomes a sure-shot way to achieve this. For gaining license the straight-way, the farmer has to shell out a whopping sum of upto Rs 1.3 lakh that encompasses Rs 50,000 for the mandatory National Savings Certificates, Rs 60,000 for bribes and another Rs 20,000 for incidental expenses.

There are many farmers who end up selling thie farm plots to acquire a gun license. At such desperate times, the promise of a free gun license as a poll sop entices voters.

Even at the cost of violating the Election Commission's model code of conduct, the politicos flout rules blatantly. On this particular poll promise, the District Magistrate of Kaushambi Atul Kumar said a notice would be issued to the minister if he is found flouting rules.

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