Despite crackdown, cash flows unchecked to voters across Tamil Nadu | Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha Election News

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For all the surveillance by the Election Commission, cash has found its way to voters in almost every constituency in Tamil Nadu, suggest reports from the ground. The sums ranged from Rs 300 to Rs 2,000 per voter, with voters offered double wherever assembly byelections are on.

In Theni, while the rest of the parliamentary constituency saw distribution of Rs 1,000 per head, voters in Andipatti and Periyakulam assembly segments were offered Rs 2,000 each, sources told TOI. Other parties too offered bribes ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 500.

In Madurai, residents of Thavuttu Chandhai in South Gate area were handed envelopes containing a booth slip and Rs 600 per head. An unsuspecting resident, who was handed two envelopes, said she had a tough time returning them to the party cadres. “It all happened in broad daylight and there was none to stop or question them,” she told TOI.

A Paramakudi resident said distribution of Rs 2,000 began early in the afternoon and continued till late in the evening without interruption. In Sivaganga, voters for the Lok Sabha polls got from Rs 200 to Rs 500, whereas it was Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 in the byelection-bound Manamadurai assembly constituency. In Virudhunagar constituency, voters were offered anywhere from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per vote. Voters in the Sattur assembly segment got the maximum attention.

The trend continued in Tuticorin constituency as well: The maximum bribe amount was reserved for the bypollbound Vilathikulam assembly segment, where sums up to Rs 3,000 were paid.

In Thanjavur, too, while voters in the parliamentary constituency got up to Rs 1,000 each, it shot up to Rs 4,000 in the assembly segment.

Similar tales poured in from the Coimbatore region as well. “Members of a political party came to my house on Tuesday morning and gave Rs 500 for each vote,” said a resident of Idayarpalayam, near Kuniamuthur, which falls in Pollachi constituency. Party workers did not give cash to all residents there, he said, adding: “They gave cash only to households which are favourable to that party.”

Favourable houses were identified by partymen who are residents of the area. If one party gave Rs 500 to each voter, its rival had promised to give Rs 200 in the same locality, residents told TOI.

In Chennai, however, cash distribution was muted though on Monday night the slum clearance board areas near the Kotturpuram bridge ‘suffered a power shutdown’ for a while around 11.30pm. TOI noticed police jeeps blocking entry into the area, thereby facilitating cash distribution. The quantum, however, could not be ascertained.

Unlike the earlier cashmarred polls when long power shutdowns were caused or police vehicles and even ambulances were used, this time around small groups of party cadre familiar with ward-level voting dynamics moved around carrying small sums and completing delivery without rousing suspicion, said a source in Madurai.

‘Confused voters’ were targets of partymen handling cash, and they were given double the amount compared to party sympathisers, he said. There were also complaints that voters got only a much dwindled amount, as cash had to cross several layers of partymen before reaching the voter finally.



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