Vitamin M in Tamil Nadu- How candidates got innovative despite stringent norms
The Election Commission of India has had a tough time while dealing with Tamil Nadu. The money that has been seized ever since the elections were announced is nothing but obscene and officials in the ECI say that this is a new low for Tamil Nadu.
The ECI may take all the action it can, but the fact remains that money will continue to be a player in every election. There have been several ways in which candidates have bribed the voters. It is very difficult these days to go house to house distributing money as was the case several years back.
With stringent norms came innovative ideas. Political parties in Tamil Nadu are said to have given Rs 5 crore per candidate with an instruction that if this is not sufficient, then they would have to raise the money on their own.
There have been instances where candidates have spent up to Rs 10 crore. Vitamin M as candidates refer to the money has been a major player this time in the elections in Tamil Nadu.
With stringent norms comes innovation:
While political parties have already announced a host of freebies if they come to power, that some how does not appear to be enough. Vijaykanth has openly said that he will never distribute money for votes. However that does not seem to be the case with everyone.
An officer with the Election Commission says that one candidate decided to hand out mangalsutras to the women in his constituency.
Another candidate prepared a list of persons who had borrowed money from money lenders and paid off their dues. There was another case in which candidates offered to bear the marriage expenses. In yet another case, candidates landed up in temples and placed the money in the Aarathi plates of the devotees.
The ECI says that there are many such methods that have been adopted by the candidates. This time around the money spending was huge. So far the ECI has managed to seize over Rs 100 crore, but then that is just a small amount compared to what has been illegally spent.
Note for vote:
The money spending in Tamil Nadu has had such a unique distinction that it had even figured in the US cables. The cable sent out on May 13 2009 by the US Embassy speaks about the Thirumangalam by-election.
The cable quotes an aide of former union minister, M K Azhagiri. He says that it is no secret that Azhagiri had paid Rs 5,000 per vote in Thirumangalam.
It was alleged that the money was placed in an envelope and distributed it to every voter in the constituency.
The use of money in the 2016 has certainly risen as this is a hard fought contest.
The Election Commission had seized Rs 36 crore in the 2011 assembly polls while in the 2014 lok sabha election it was Rs 25 crore. This year the figures have already crossed Rs 100 crore.