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Rediff.com  » News » 'Why stop candidates from giving money to voters?'

'Why stop candidates from giving money to voters?'

April 22, 2014 17:02 IST

'We have created fear in the minds of villagers so that they don't indulge in wrongdoing. We have already seized Rs 1 crore of bribe money,' Madurai Superintendent of Police Vijayendra Bidari tells Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar.

Checking the distribution of money by those contesting elections has posed a major challenge to the Election Commission, but not everyone agrees it is such a bad thing.

The owner of the hotel where this correspondent stayed in Madurai had a different view.

"Why stop the candidates from giving money to voters? It's the only time in five years that they actually give money. They mint money for 5 years and this is the only time it comes back to the people," he says. "The money belongs to the people and the politicians are doing the right thing by giving it back."

He felt the police and the Election Commission are wrong in stopping the "only good and right thing that happens during elections."

"We are here to ensure free and fair elections, and won't allow money to be distributed," says Madurai Superintendent of Police Vijayendra Bidari, left, below.

Unlike previous elections, the police have a standard operating procedure to stop the flow of money.

With about 60 flying squads and 60 static squads, the areas that go to the polls are under round-the-clock surveillance.

Each squad has a Special Executive Magistrate, a central police component and a local police component. There is also a toll free number and the police helpline number '100' where citizens can report an offence, says Bidari.

Village awareness committees have been set up to educate villagers that both giving and taking a bribe is a criminal offence under Section 171 B and E of the Indian Penal Code. The guilty could be fined or sent to prison for a year, or both.

"We have created fear in the minds of the villagers so that they don't indulge in wrongdoing. We have already seized Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) of bribe money," adds Bidari.

In addition to these measures, expenditure observers and teams monitor if the Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct is being followed, keep track of the candidates and maintain video surveillance of their activities.

These videos are available under the Right To Information Act for Rs 300.

When asked if money will flow in the last two days after candidates stop canvassing in Madurai -- Tamil Nadu goes to the polls on Thursday, April 24 -- Bidari says, "We have a special plan for the last three days. Elections will be over in the neighbouring state and the paramilitary forces stationed there will come here to help us augment our resources. Our strength will go up 5 times."

"No one will bribe voters," says Bidari, "not on my beat"

A Ganesh Nadar in Madurai