Parties, candidate in ‘audit’ mode over money spent for votes

Parties, candidate in ‘audit’ mode over money spent for votes

Worried over surveys and changing stakes in betting on prospects of parties and candidates, they are sending teams investigate whether the money they spent really reached intended voters and how many of them voted for them

Ongole : The long-period between the polling and counting of the votes, the frequent release of various surveys and changes in trends of betting are forcing the political parties and candidates in some constituencies to send their men to verify their preliminary reports with ground-level reality.

It is said that the quid pro quo between the candidate and the voter has been in practice for decades, which reached a stage where even the family members of the party worker are not willing to vote for the leader if they didn’t receive the benefit.

After the 2019 general elections, many reports were published in the media that Darsi in the Prakasam district is a costly Assembly constituency, where the candidates spent around Rs 200 crore to woo the voters.

This time in 2024, the bar was set high and the poll pundits estimate that the candidate from one party alone spent more than Rs 150 crore, while the candidate from another party spent about Rs 120 crore.

In Ongole, the candidate from one major party spent Rs 4,000 per vote while the candidate from the other party spent Rs 2,000. It is more than Rs 150 crore that the candidates spent on the voters just two to three days before the election.

If the expenditure during the long campaign is also calculated, the total cost will cross more than Rs 250 crore easily in Ongole alone.

The expenditure hit the sky in several other Assembly constituencies in the state. But the voters have the freedom to vote for their favourite candidate, irrespective of the money they received from different candidates.

To spend the money on the voters, the candidates usually depend on the local leaders. The funds received from their party, the contribution from the MP candidate and the funds pooled by on the own usually would be distributed to the dens of the local leaders, from where they it reaches to individual voters.

The candidates who have command over the constituency would appoint observers on the work of the local leaders, but those non-local candidates who just entered the constituency should be dependent on the ground-level leaders, even if they do not like it.

The long gap between the polling and the counting has left candidates worried over surveys and betting. The parties and the candidates are bewildered now and start to count each vote by visiting the houses of the voters in the areas where they are not very confident of a majority.

They are sending their men to go door to door, to ask the voters whether they received the money from the candidate or not and in what portion of it. For instance, if the investigating team received feedback that the voters didn’t receive what they sent, the candidates can conclude that the ground-level leaders deceived them. They have to lose hopes on such division or ward.

When asked why the need for unnecessary exercise as voting was over, a candidate in Prakasam district said that it helps them to know who betrayed them and gives a good chance to not to allow them around in future. He said that the money spent by the candidates from both major parties didn’t reach the voters in full in at least four constituencies, and they are really worried about them.

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