Political Santas shower goodies on voters

Published: Dec 19, 2011, 05:51 IST | Priyankka Deshpande and Vivek Sabnis |

Prospective candidates of all political parties are offering costly gifts such as cars and junkets to places like Goa to woo them ahead of upcoming civic polls

Prospective candidates of all political parties are offering costly gifts such as cars and junkets to places like Goa to woo them ahead of upcoming civic polls

Wannabe coporators of all political hues are playing Santa Claus this Christmas season. They are out with their deep goodie bags, showering costly gifts -- including cars, free movie tickets and free holiday trip tickets -- on people, apparently to woo voters in their favour ahead of upcoming civic polls in January. 

Free for all: NCP leader Vinayak Hanamghar offered free movie tickets 
to around 1,000 voters and treated them to snacks during the interval. 
Pic/Krunal Gosavi

According to political observers, the ill-conceived idea of buying the ballot seems to have become a craze among wannabe corporators of all political hues. These deep-pocket prospective candidates from leading political parties see nothing wrong in splurging on the voters to win their support. 

Goodies for grabs: BJP aspirant Nilesh Vairat sends a vehicle to his 
panel to distribute caste/domicile certificates to the people. Candidates 
are also giving away exorbitant gifts including cars, free movie tickets 
and free holiday trip tickets. pic/Krunal Gosavi 

These aspiring candidates are offering freebies worth crores of rupees, including sponsoring voters' trip to Goa, gifting cars and buying them movie tickets, to gain popularity among the masses. While the prospective candidates of the BJP, the MNS, the NCP and the Shiv Sena are indulged in this malpractice, senior leaders of these leading parties are keeping mum on the issue. 

Take the case of NCP's prospective candidate from Dhanori (Panel no.1) Sunil Tingre. The leader admitted that he has gifted a Maruti Alto car to a needy woman in his panel. "Around 15 days ago, I had organised a game in which the women of our area participated. The lucky winner received an Alto car. This way, I can develop a rapport with the voters in my area," said Tingre.

An aspiring BJP candidate from panel Number 51, Nilesh Vairat, has embarked on a rather subtle approach. He is out on a door-to-door campaign and is asking people whether they need help procuring UID, income certificate and caste certificate. This is probably his last-ditch effort to win over the hearts of people through his suddenly-discovered urge for social work. 

"For the past five days, my vehicle is going to the voters' doorstep every day asking if anyone needs any help with procurement of caste or domicile certificate," said Vairat. Senior leaders of all the political parties have unanimously agreed to the fact that such amateurish acts of the prospective candidates will not translate into votes for them. Shiv Sena leader Nana Wadekar said, "Our party believes in winning over people's heart through work. We don't believe in the wicked idea of buying the ballot." 

"And in any case, we have no money to bribe people," he quipped. Asked what action would be taken if any Shiv Sena candidate is found guilty of bribing people, he said, "Look, the power lies only in hands of party supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. So he can only take the decision against such complaints, if there be any." Condemning the malpractice gaining currency among wannabe corporators, NCP leader Ankush Kakade said, "It's one of the strategies to attract voters. But we are not in favour of such things." 

He, however, parried the question whether any action would be taken against candidates found indulged in such activities. MNS state general secretary Anil Shidore said, "The corporator is the mediator between citizens and civic body and his work should be to solve the civic related issues of the citizens of his ward."

NCP leader Vinayak Hanamghar had offered free movie tickets to around 1,000 voters from Ward No 52 at Dattawadi and also treated them to snacks during the interval. Hanamghar also convinced the lead actors of the Marathi film 'Sharyat' (Race) to grace the occasion and interact with the audience. Hanamghar said, "This is a great way to reach out to the people in my ward." According to sources, Hanmghar had spent around Rs 40,000 on the event.

(With inputs from Anupama Pillai)

Galore of surprises?
Aba Bagul, a four time Congress corporator from Ward No 116 Sahakarnagar, is seeking re-election this time also. He had invited Bollywood showman Subhash Ghai and veteran actress Sharmila Tagore to inaugurate a 4D theatre for Children in a PMC garden in his ward on Saturday. "The 4D theatre is my brainchild and I wanted the people of my ward to know about this unique theatre," he said, adding the event could be organised as the election code of conduct is yet to be clamped. If aspiring MNS candidate Vinita Wagaskar is distributing candles among the general public. She also plans to distribute Christmas gifts, sitting BJP corporator from Ward 51 Swati More is conducting musical events apparently to sway voters.

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