MYSURU: In what can be termed a bad precedent in democracy, many young and first-time voters sold their votes for a price in the Old Mysore region during polling on Wednesday. This is expected to turn the poll results upside down in many constituencies.
Although the district administration and Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) committee made all preparations to ensure a free and fair election this time, the first-time and young voters had other plans.
This was evident in many polling booths in urban as well as rural areas of the district. While many such voters were busy contacting those distributing money for votes, some waited near polling booths for agents of political parties. A few were seen striking a deal with the agents.
Over 50,000 youngsters were added to the voters’ list in the district this year with Chamundeshwari constituency reporting the highest number of 6,068 such voters, followed by 5,663 in Hunsur, 5,170 in KR Nagar, and 4,944 in Narasimharaja constituencies. At Hyrige village in HD Kote taluk, many voters aged between 19 and 23 were seen in front of the polling booth waiting for village leaders to offer them the “best” price for their votes. Mahesha, a college student, was heard telling a JDS leader that he is ready to sell his vote. While he was offered Rs 1,000, Mahesha demanded Rs 500 more stating that he will bring four more voters. He made a final offer of Rs 1,500 per vote.
Youth say no party addressing jobs issue
When the JDS leader told Mahesha that he needed some time to get money, the five-member group immediately approached the agents of BJP with the same plan. Mahesha, who was already drunk by then, said, “Show me a place where there is no involvement of money in elections. It is still 1 pm and we will wait till 4 pm.
We will vote for the party which pays us more.” In Krishnaraja constituency, young voters were seen demanding money to vote for the Congress candidate at Kurubarahalli. In Chamundeshwari constituency, according to sources, a man approached a panchayat leader stating that an association headed by him has 31 members and they were ready to vote for a particular candidate if they were paid Rs 1,500 per vote.
“No party will tackle problems such as unemployment if it comes to power. There is nothing wrong in taking money,” said Harish Gowda, a supervisor at a factory, who took Rs 1,500 for his vote in Chamundeshwari constituency. What is more worrying is the involvement of children, who were seen with agents of various parties, raising slogans and asking people to vote in favour of their candidates near polling booths. All this, when the model code of conduct and other guidelines were in force.