TN’s new bypoll ‘success recipe’

Chennai: It is a sea of men clad in dhotis with distinctive party colour border design seeking votes with a smile and folded hands for their party candidates. The town is abuzz, with electioneering at the peak, and teeming trendy cars criss-cross the busy roads and bylanes bringing in more and more leaders from elsewhere for campaign.

The February 27 bypoll to Erode (East) Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu has emerged as the mother of all byelections in the State mainly for ‘experiments’ by parties with ‘new formulae’ to win.

No wonder, claims on a variety of inducements to voters by parties have become the talk of the town. The kind of attention the bypoll is getting from the ruling DMK and principal opposition AIADMK is striking.

Herding people in sheds to prevent rivals from approaching them, cash for votes, attractive gifts including branded clothing, 1-gram gold coins and silver articles, organising tours to tourist places and providing fresh meat during the weekend form part of the alleged ‘new formulas.’ The total value of gifts and cash to a ‘target’ family of four voters may be around Rs 10,000 or even above, if allegations from several quarters are true.

Election officials maintained that round-the-clock surveillance is on and as and when they receive a complaint, they take all steps to prevent bribing voters. No allegation on gifts or cash for votes have so far been proven, they said. On gifts and cash, local people hesitantly said that the ‘offer’ is from supporters of both the DMK, which is backing Congress nominee EVKS Elangovan and the AIADMK as well. The main opposition has fielded its former MLA from here KS Thennarasu.