Assembly elections 2017: No demonetisation impact, sting operation shows candidates indulging in cash for votes in UP, Manipur

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New Delhi, Feb 23: An investigation by leading national channel Indian Today has shown that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation policy has had no effect on election funding. In a sting operation, India Today’s undercover reporters found that candidates from various political parties in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Manipur are trying to buy votes and capture booths so that they can be voted to power. Ateeq Ahmed Saifi, who is Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s 28 Moradabad constituency, has been caught on camera saying, “Will never stop your work inshallah, do whatever you have in your mind. You just have to sit at home and our work. Legitimate or illegitimate will be done at the ministry. If it’s something that Behenji (Mayawati) is required to do, I’ll have it done that as well. Leaders like us are approached mainly for shady work. Whatever you ask for, we will get it done, whether it’s a PWD or a mining tender.”
If voted to power, Saifi would make no distinction between right and wrong. In Uttar Pradesh, the Election Commission has kept campaign spending at Rs 28 lakh per candidate, but Saifi says his bill has already crossed Rs 4 crore since he began lobbying for a ticket. “Like this I have spent more than Rs 4 crore from the day I started fighting this election. At least Rs 5 lakh a day is going on campaign vehicles which are running around the poll-bound state. Besides, there’s every other kind of spending from food to tea for the public.”
When India Today reporter asked how many vehicles were involved as of now, Saifi said that at present, there were 30 vehicles of which some of them were running with permission, some without permission. “How can we show so much of spending on paper? It is Rs 1000 for each booth agent and I have to pay 450 of them,” Saifi was heard saying in the sting.
Atul Garg, a Samajwadi Party candidate from Agra North, was found soliciting funds in order to bribe voters. “For satisfactory results, I have to buy 15,000 to 20,000 votes,” Garg was captured saying this on camera. On being asked how much 15,000 votes will cost him, Garg replied, “It will be an additional expense of 20-25 lakh. I can give money, food, material and liquor. We will provide, whatever is required. ”
In the neighbouring Agra Cantonment constituency, Peace Party nominee Rakesh Valmiki was ready to use both money and muscle to win the state assembly. “We will give Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 directly to the voters. We’ll also have men to shoot at booths where I am not getting votes. They will riot and capture those booths.
Woba Joram, a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Manipur, was also seen with hefty amount of cash in a 5-star hotel. Talking to the undercover reporter, Joram said, “I have spent Rs 1.02 crore so far and If I have Rs 2 crore in my hand, I would win.” He also confessed, “Last time I had spent Rs 4 crore, in year 2007 it was Rs 3 crore, Victory is more expensive now. The problem has grown somewhat, it will definitely be Rs 5 crore.”
In Manipur, the elections will be held in two-phase. In the first phase, 38 constituencies will go to polls on March 04 whereas remaining 22 seats will go to polls on March 08 in the second phase. The term of the present Assembly expires on March 18, 2017.
The Election Commission of India had set the campaign expenses limit per candidate between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 28 lakh in the five states.

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