New Delhi: Private detective agencies are having a field day in the run up to the Delhi Assembly Elections with several ticket aspirants engaging them to keep a tab on rivals within and outside their political parties.
Parties had been hiring the private sleuths in the previous elections too to know various details about their rivals but this time the detectives are being hired on a large scale at individual level by ticket aspirants particularly to check activities of their opponents within the party.
"Hiring private detective agencies ahead of the elections is an established practice by now. But hiring them at individual level to evaluate the chances of their rivals getting tickets and other details is a recent trend," said Mahesh Chandra Sharma, the managing director of GDX Detectives Pvt Ltd.
Industry sources said there are around 150 detective agencies operating in Delhi out of which 13 are considered having specialisation in political espionage.
"All these 13 agencies have their hands full and now they have started rejecting any more clients," they said.
Sharma said almost all parities hired private detectives in the city and at individual level, these agencies are being tasked by various politicians to find out whether the lobby supporting them are also supporting their rivals.
"They have been given jobs like gathering information on their rivals` influence in a constituency and also to ascertain their antecedents including whether they face any criminal charges," Sharma said.
Over 1,600 Congress workers have applied for tickets for 70 constituencies while over 1,000 aspirants have sought party nomination from BJP for the December 4 Assembly polls.
According to Sharma, all political parties have already hired several detectives and their agencies and spending quite a big amount on them. Kunwar Vikram Singh, the chairman of Association of Private Detectives and Investigators, said the agencies are also being hired by various political parties to conduct background checks of prospective candidates as well as to keep an eye on them if they are denied tickets.
"Private detectives are mainly being hired to conduct background checks of prospective candidates seeking ticket, their areas of influence and also to keep a watch on the anti-party activities of those who are denied ticket," he said.
Singh said there have been instances of hiring of detectives by those who were denied ticket by a party to scuttle chances of their rivals` victory.
"At times when several aspirants are eager to grab a ticket, these agencies are in great demand. These agencies make good business when there is a tussle among probable within major parties," he said.
Though there are no available figures on fees these agencies charge, a source said they take around Rs 5 lakh per constituency for an individual politician to carry out such exercises.
"The rate goes up if the profile of the candidate is high," said the source adding the fees depends on various factors including number of ticket aspirants in a constituency, their profile and also the duration for which the spies are hired.