Hrs on road for food, cash: Meet campaign kids

The heat, dust and traffic didn’t seem to bother the young boy, as he handed out pamphlets to onlookers and motorists in the bustling Cottonpet area.

The heat, dust and traffic didn’t seem to bother the young boy, as he handed out pamphlets to onlookers and motorists in the bustling Cottonpet area.

A Class 5 student of a government school at Goripalya, Zameer, was campaigning for Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad. “We don’t know about the money. I will get new clothes if I distribute these papers (pamphlets). My father brought me here,” he said. Another student of around the same age, who refused to reveal his name, said the party pays them Rs 500 and provides food. 

Political parties have been cashing in on the start of the summer vacation by using school children for their rallies and road shows.

The Election Commission’s flying squad has already registered cases against the Congress and the BJP in all the three Lok Sabha constituencies for using minor children in their election campaigns.

While some teenagers feel the need to rake in money through rallies, some school children want to spend their summer vacation this way.

Two teens who were keen on participating in Congress candidate B K Hariprasad’s bike rally in Bommanahalli constituency on Tuesday were dejected as they were turned away. “We did not have our own bikes, so we were not allowed to participate in the rally. Had we got a chance, we could have made some money,” said Anand (16), a daily wager from Doresanipalya.

On Tuesday, DH spoke to students at the campaigns of BJP candidate P C Mohan and Congress’ Rizwan Arshad. Kannaiah, a Class 8 student from Moodalpalya was brought in for Mohan’s campaign near Mysore Bank Circle. He said he earns Rs 300 for 2-3 hours of work and gets food. “Since we are children, they pay us half of what adults earn. Seniors get anywhere around Rs 600-Rs 700. There is no particular party we stick to. Some promise us clothes, food and Rs 500 but end up paying Rs 300 or Rs 350,” Kannaiah told DH.

Narasimha G Rao, director, Child Rights Trust said using children for political reasons is a heinous crime. “The party supporters pick up children who have no knowledge of politics. They paint the children, make them wear fancy clothes only to grab attention,” he said. He also opined that parents are equally to blame for allowing their children to participate in such rallies.

 “Instead of using underprivileged children for campaigns, they can provide them food, basic needs and admit them to child welfare institutes,” added Rao.

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Hrs on road for food, cash: Meet campaign kids

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