Nation Other News 07 Apr 2019 Khammam: Party hoppi ...

Khammam: Party hopping is big business for small leaders

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | A RAVINDRA SESHU
Published Apr 7, 2019, 2:48 am IST
Updated Apr 7, 2019, 2:48 am IST
It’s not just voters who are taking money from all parties and then deciding to cast the vote entirely upon their own whim and fancy.
 It’s not just voters who are taking money from all parties and then deciding to cast the vote entirely upon their own whim and fancy.

Khammam: Innovative ways are being discovered to make money during elections. It’s not just voters who are taking money from all parties and then deciding to cast the vote entirely upon their own whim and fancy.

There are small-time mandal leaders who can be called as agents who have no real loyalty and work purely to make some personal money. The interesting bit is that they work so professionally, they can easily be called smart event managers.

These small-time mandal leaders have mushroomed in the 15 mandals in Madhira, Khammam, Palair, Wyra, Kothagudem, Sattupalli and Aswaraopet Assembly segments.

Check out their modus operandi.

A few days before the last date of campaigning, they approach the candidate from one party, ostensibly their own, thereby warding off all suspicions. They tell the candidate that about 100 people from the mandal are interested in aligning with the candidate and his party. What’s more, these new joinees would come with their families who would also swear allegiance. The total number of expected new voters would be around 300.

But there is no free lunch. In other words, the joinees will come for a price, the contesting candidate is informed by the local mandal leader.

The rate per person would vary from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. The gullible candidate, desperate to win, agrees.

A special function is organised and the candidate meets his new fans. Exchange of money is done and the happy candidate, blissfully ignorant of the fact that he has been taken for a ride, trots home.

So where is the catch?  Right here, but so smartly played, that nobody gets wiser.

The mandal leader quickly pockets half the money given to the voter and gives him the rest. The next step: He visits the rival contestant and gives the same spiel. Yet another function is organised and the same people are taken to this function too and they sincerely promise their allegiance to this candidate too. Money is exchanged once again, and the mandal leader once more pockets half the money and gives the rest to the double crossing voter.

While it is a win-win situation for both of them, the poor candidate has no clue that he had been taken for a ride.

This kind of manipulation occurs primarily because neither leader is aware that the audience is common. There have many occasions like these when the same persons joined both the TRS and Congress. The front-face leaders changed and their followers are picked up for photo shoots, the pics of which are sent to individual camp offices and as PR material to newspapers.

Mr N. Sunder Rao, a Congress leader said, “Ten such leaders are there in every mandal and their main business is to stage ‘party change’ events before candidates. Many times the candidates are not aware of them. These leaders will keep in touch with the borrowed people promising to pay them some money.”
The earning of these leaders is around Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh in the elections.

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