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‘Votes for notes’ goes hi-tech with digital money

Deccan Chronicle 2018-05-15 03:13:00

Bengaluru: 'Votes for notes' is nothing new in India. Politicians and poll campaigners in Karnataka-the most tech savvy state in the country-have tried several innovative ways to get the cash across to voters in this election.

Digital money, through Paytm and other mobile wallets, played a critical role. Freebies and goodies came in the form of entry level mobile phones, mobile recharges, pen drives, memory cards, power banks, sun glasses, electric shavers in addition to the usual suspects like kitchen mixers, pressure cookers, iron boxes, sarees, blouse pieces, make-up sets, shopping vouchers, etc. Well, the list is as good as a supermarket.


Ola cabbie Ramana Menasinkai from North Canara received Rs 6,000 in his paytm account from a political party against three votes in his family.
Chetan Gowda, an Uber driver from Hassan received Rs 5,000 in his paytm account from a certain party while his twin brother, Vachan Gowda, a mechanic in Halmidi got another 6,000 in his paytm from different political parties. Their family has five voters.

A potters' family off Dharmastala in Dakshina Kannada district received a surprise gift, an electric clay mixer, may be a bit expensive but still worth it as the family has seven votes, comprising parents, sons and daughters in law.

Gangamma, a maid who lives in a slum in north  Bengaluru was astonished to see data and voice recharge for Rs 250 on her cell phone.  As she was wondering what had happened, friends Malathi, Shankari and Gandhi, all three washer women, also reported similar incidents of unexpected recharges. It was a mystery, until a lady representative of a local candidate made a visit to their one-room houses and gave them an additional package, comprising of blouse pieces, kumkum powder, talcum powder and a bottle of nail polish.

Bhavani Sampath (name changed) is a social worker in Madehalli village of Chitradurga district. She was secretly approached by a political party seeking her help in canvassing votes in the village she works. A chunky sum was transferred online to her bank account and she in turn reached out to 800 women and some men in the village and paid them Rs 1000 each- cash or via paytm. The social worker also got a remuneration of Rs 10,000 for working on stealth mode for four days.