As with last Diwali, this year as well politicians are leaving no stone unturned to attract voters with the sweet gift of discounted sugar in these inflationary times.
If last year it was wannabe corporators who distributed sugar free or at subsidised rates just before Diwali, this year it is MLAs, wannabe MLAs and MPs who are getting into the act.
Most of the BJP leaders are distributing sugar at Rs 30 per kg when the market rate is about Rs 40 per kg.
MNS leaders are also distributing sugar, and at Rs 9 per kg, their rates are far below anyone else’s in the city.
The Shiv Sena is giving out the whole package of ingredients used in Diwali sweets, like a kilo of rawa, sugar, flour and rice. It is mostly leaders in the Opposition who are busy with the Diwali initiative, as assembly and general elections are to be held in the not-too-distant future.
A senior leader from the BJP claimed that last year corporators got the results of such an initiative and now, with all the talk of Lok Sabha and assembly mid-term polls being a possibility, politicians were trying their best to lure voters using the same successful formula.
City BJP spokesperson Niranjan Shetty said many in his party were distributing sugar at cheap rates to help the common man in an era of high prices of essentials.
“This is the best way to connect with voters and, especially with prices so high, the party is just trying to ease the burden of the common man,” he said.
The Shiv Sena has gone a step further to woo voters and is giving out all ingredients to make sweets at affordable rates, claiming that inflation is so high today that the common man cannot afford most of the raw materials needed to prepare Diwali sweets. At almost every place in the city, various Shiv Sena shakas are busy doling out the essentials for Diwali faral.
“We, at various places in Mumbai, are giving out packets that contain all the material,” party mahila sanghatak for South Mumbai Jayshree Ballikar said. “We are giving a kilo of sugar, a kilo rawa, a kilo maida and a half-kilo of beaten rice for Rs 90. Our aim is to reach out to all Mumbaikars who can not afford to pay market prices for these products.”
Viral Shah, who works with Mulund MLA Sardar Tara Singh, claims that in the past two days, they distributed more than 1,000 kg of sugar.
Among the well-known leaders distributing sugar are former MP Kirit Somaiya and MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar, who is giving it away at Rs 9 per kg. Atul Bhatkhalkar of the BJP, who is eyeing an assembly seat from Kandivli, also distributed sugar.
A leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the idea had merit as it had brought dividends for many in the civic body election.
“Last year most of the corporators who distributed the sugar and onions at various places got a good number of votes, so we are also trying the same trick and are hopeful that people will remember the help that we gave them during festivals and vote for us during elections,” the politician said.