AP: Gold coins, bikes... Parties go all out to `bribe` voters
Hyderabad: With less than a week left for the high-stake Andhra Pradesh bypolls, being touted as the "semi-finals" before the general elections, all the main contenders are sparing no effort to flaunt their might in the high-decibel campaign.
On the streets, and through the media, leaders of the three main parties -- Congress, Telugu Desam and YSR Congress -- are spewing venom at their rivals. "Decency" is, of course, the one word missing from their vocabulary as they are exchanging high-pitched verbal volleys.
Behind the scenes, workers of these parties are quietly going about their `work` -- doling out `inducements` in `cash and kind` to the voters for the June 12 by-elections to one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies.
It was a shocking experience for Election Commission authorities in the state as they seized cash, gold, silver and other items on an "unprecedented" scale in the 12 districts facing by-elections, ever since the poll schedule was announced.
A sum of Rs 32 crore in unaccounted for cash, about 29 kgs of gold and 13 kg of silver has been "seized" so far, making it by-far the biggest `catch` in any election in the state, officials of the EC here say.
"Even during a general election we haven`t stumbled upon this much cash or gold.
"This shows the kind of money power that is being used in the by-elections," a senior official of the EC here remarked.
In the cash-rich Godavari districts, a particular party allegedly wanted to go on a gold distribution spree to woo the women voters in particular but its plans were nipped in the bud when EC authorities got wind of it and seized ornaments from the manufacturer, sources said.
The Telugu Desam Party complained to the EC that the YSR Congress candidate in Ongole has been distributing gold ornaments like ear-rings and nose studs apart from sarees to women voters.
In another case, the EC authorities seized 90 "sports bikes" in Prakasam district while there are reports that cell phones are being distributed in some other constituencies.
A party is also allegedly luring women members of self-help groups in villages with the promise of "funds transfer" and the TDP asked the EC to keep a tab on the bank accounts of SHGs.
The ruling party, on the other hand, has been accused of wielding its authority to link the `bank linkage` for SHG loans to the outcome of the by-elections in the respective constituencies.
Also, there is large-scale betting on the prospects of different parties in various constituencies. Sources claim that some of the candidates themselves are involved in such activities.
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