Dinner sets, pressure cookers, digital clocks and other gifts to induce voters — it looks like a season of freebies months ahead of Assembly elections in Karnataka. Some politicians were found to sponsor pilgrimage of their voters — the most preferred destinations being Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Manjunatha Swami temple in Dharmasthala in Karnataka and Shirdi in Maharashtra.
A video of digital clocks bearing the photograph of a prominent politician in Bagalkote district went viral recently. In a Bengaluru constituency, dinner sets were distributed to voters, a resident told PTI. “I received a call in the afternoon to come and collect the dinner set. Initially I thought it was a prank but when I went there to check, they were really distributing the dinner set,” a woman requesting anonymity said.
In another segment in the city, a former minister allegedly paid the life insurance premium of a section of voters. Truckloads of pressure cookers and kitchen utensils were also seized recently.
Reacting to these incidents, the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Manoj Kumar Meena said the Model Code of Conduct comes into force from the day the election dates are announced but there are ways to curb such practices even before the poll process kicks in.
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“The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect from the date of elections. Till then (we deliberated) what we can do in the light of the recent media reports which allege that the political parties and the elected representatives are doing different activities to garner votes,” Meena told PTI.
He said he had called a meeting of all the enforcement agencies from both state and central government and directed them to take action against them as per the existing rules and regulations. “We asked them why don’t you use those laws and see that action can be taken against those people. The Commercial tax department can raid the godowns and find out whether there is any violation of the GST Act is there or not,” he added.
According to him, the commercial tax department had raided two warehouses in Chikkamagaluru and Tumakuru and found that those goods were not authorised. Accordingly, the owners of warehouses were fined.
“There are various ways in which these departments can enforce their own laws and in a way help us control these activities,” he added. Assembly elections in BJP-governed Karnataka are due by May.