Mandya: If people have been known to pocket the money given by politicians and vote for whomever they like, candidates appear to have wised up to them this Lok Sabha poll and are reportedly demanding they take a vow to vote for them and no one else before parting with any cash.
According to villagers of Mandya, the rate for each vote ranges from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 this election and they are being made to take a vow, touching the photograph of Lord Manjunath, the presiding deity of Dharmasthala, that they will vote for the candidate in question before they are given the money.
“Make a vow on Lord Manjunatha that you will vote for our candidate and take the money,” is the new thumb rule, they allege.
Appearing to substantiate their claim are pictures of some youth holding cash, postcard size pictures of Lord Manjunath and pamphlets carrying the photograph of the candidate, that have been uploaded on social media.
Going by sources, distribution of cash started in the villages of Mandya Tuesday night and continued on Wednesday. It is claimed the Janata Dal (Secular) is spending at least Rs 8 crore to Rs 10 crore on each Assembly segment to woo voters. A recent audio conversation allegedly between Mr Chetan Gowda, son of sitting Mandya MP L R Shivaramegowda and former JD(S) leader, P Ramesh, that became public, made a mention about the party's alleged plans to spend Rs 150 crore on Mandya alone, with Rs 5 lakh reserved for each booth.
With Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son, Nikhil, involved in a tough battle in the constituency with Ms Sumalatha Ambareesh, widow of the late former minister, M H Ambareesh, the party is reportedly leaving nothing to chance. JD(S) leaders, however, accuse Ms Sumalatha of distributing cash to woo voters, a charge strongly denied by her supporters. Her son, Abhishek Gowda, has on the other hand, accused the JD(S) in a Facebook post of distributing money to voters after asking them take an oath to vote for Mr Nikhil.
Sources reveal the money for distribution among voters has reached villages despite extensive checks across the constituency, and is being distributed through agents to escape the notice of the watchful poll officials.