Milk tokens, e-wallet: How voters were bribed in R K Nagar
The election commission in a late Sunday notification countermanded the R K Nagar bypoll. While the election commission said that money was distributed to voters in violation of its code, it also put out a list of methods adopted by political parties to bribe the voters. With this list, it becomes clear that cash alone is not what political parties are dependent on. Bribing voters during polls has also turned digital these days.
The election commission in its order has mentioned that it received complaints of bribes being paid in form of tokens to purchase various products, prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk supply subscription tokens, money transfer to no frill accounts in banks and even mobile wallet payment to mobile numbers. These methods apart from the traditional ways of handing out cash and gifts to the voters.
The election commission said it had made elaborate arrangements to stop such novel bribing ideas. "The transactions of bank accounts were monitored by the surveillance team. The mobile phone top up of postpaid plans, newspaper agents, milk vendors were monitored electronically or otherwise to prevent misuse of such channels. Teams of the Sales Tax (commercial tax) department were pressed into service to immediately verify sale of goods through tokens," the election commission said in its order.
Apart from the new age bribes that political parties handed out, the traditional malpractices of gifting cash, sarees, utensils, lamps were also witnessed in R K Nagar. And all this, even as 61 teams including a total of 227 officials, one of the highest ever, appointed by the election commission to ensure free and fair election process.