Poll management: Around 2 per cent voters expect cash

Gajwel voters

Rama Krishna Sangem

Poll management – is a word we hear mostly as the day of polling, November 30, nearing fast. But, what is poll management? or booth level management of elections? There are different answers to this question, but I confine to only two ways of it. One, to woo away undecided or neutral voters by distributing cash and liquor. Second is to bring all those general supporters to the polling booth. 

After the broad level campaigning is almost over. After releasing the lists of candidates, issuing B forms (allotting election symbols) and release of manifestos, all the major political parties have conducted election meetings by their top leaders. BRS campaign is led by CM KCR, party working president KTR and senior minister Harish Rao, while Congress team is led by Rahul, Priyanka, PCC president Revanth and others.

BJP has roped in PM Modi, HM Amit Shah, a group of union ministers and some CMs of their party. Of course, BJP’s poll ally, Jana Sena’s Pawan Kalyan too addressed a few meetings, but with out little impact. These official canvassing meetings are only to create a broad favorable atmosphere. They help which party is actively canvassing on the ground and who is ahead in the race.

Some parties are also releasing advertisements in the media – generally in newspapers and TV news channels. They too indicate who is more resourceful and eager to woo voters. But, a recent study by a media school students in Hyderabad say that common voters are not trusting this mainstream media – particularly newspapers. The moment you mention the name of a paper, voters say to which party that paper belongs to (or soft on).


Poll management is key

I will discuss about why people are not full y trusting mainstream media separately, but now will confine to the needs of a poll management and how three major players of Telangana – BRS, Congress and BJP – are doing it.  A quick survey of voters of Hyderabad and surrounding areas reveal that around 2 per cent voters are expecting or waiting for cash from the  candidates.

“We will see who will give us more, and then decided whom to vote,” is the common answer from several people, mostly in slums or bastis. For example, a slum in Osmania University campus (there are 20 slums here) has a total 7,000 votes and a majority of them are waiting for cash offers. Till Thursday, they haven’t received any money or liquor. But, the local leaders of three parties are in touch with them.

Actual flow of money and liquor will happen from November 25, Saturday. Candidates are waiting till the last day, because of two reasons: One, they cannot afford to feed voters for full one week. Two, out of fear of other side offering more to the voters. But, the expectation among voters is of Rs 3,000-Rs 5,000 per vote. Ironically, this money is distributed not by the parties directly, but by the local community leaders. BRS and Congress are active in this.

So, at least 30-40 per cent of the cash goes into pockets of these middlemen.  Only the remaining reach actual voters. The poor voters, despite getting certain welfare benefits demand cash, as they think, this is the time to make any money. Moreover, after elections, no winning candidate – MLA – meets them or listens to them. There’s a general apathy towards political parties and leaders among the poor voters.


2nd type of poll management

Second type of poll management is the parties ensuring higher turn out of their supporters on the polling day. How to bring them to the polling booth. Distribution of poll slips and arranging transport to those who cannot afford to come to the booth is taken care by all the three parties. BJP is active in some seats like Amberpet in Hyderabad city. In other place, BRS is active while Congress is lagging behind.

As the polling day fast approaches, now is the time for micro management of voters.  Entering into specific deals with the local or community leaders and tilting undecided voters to their side. What I gathered from different camps is that BRS leaders are doing better job on this, but Congress and BJP are banking on general anti-incumbency mood among the voters. 

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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