Chennai: Tamil Nadu votes for a new government on Wednesday amid allegations of use of money to purchase votes.
Despite a crackdown by the Election Commission, the ruling DMK and rivals AIADMK have been bribing voters quite brazenly this time.
The Election Commission has seized Rs 5 crore in cash, which was hidden in a private bus in Trichy. The money, meant to bribe voters, was just one part of the over Rs 33 cror in hard cash seized across the state.
The most high profile face to be allegedly caught distributing calendars and cash to the voter is former telecom minister A Raja's brother Kalliaperumal. His case is just one of the thousand one hundred and twenty three cases registered in the state.
But despite the action, money continues to reach voters like Padmaja, who lives in a slum in Chennai. She openly admits that both sides have offered her money the difference she says is in the amount
"One side gave me Rs 2,000, another side offered Rs 1,000. I will take the money but will vote for who I think is better," said Padmaja.
Money is being distributed to the voter, and if it was an allegation for many years over the last two elections it's a brazenly admitted fact and that is the disturbing trend.
The allegations reached an enormous scale in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when the DMK allegedly unleashed unprecedented money power. And while the party in power often faces more of the allegations the AIADMK too cannot claim a clean record.
On the ground the rate for a vote is decided by the profile of the candidate, it ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per vote and the urban voter gets more than the one in rural areas.
To escape the crack down by the Election Commission in the parties have allegedly found new ways to distribute money, which include use of courier agencies to reach envelopes with money, give voters free mobile recharges or by concealing money in news papers.
"DMK cadres are reaching the voter with such covers with the rising sun symbol and money inside," said AIADMK spokesperson Dr V Mythreyan.
"AIADMK had started this trend by giving voters nose rings concealed in Ladoos," said DMK leader TKS Elangovan.
"If the voter decides not to take this Rs 1000 and Rs 2000 and sell his future for five years, the money power can be completely eliminated," said Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar.
Perhaps the onus is on the voter as much as the politician, but the fact at the moment money plays a large part in a Dravidian election.