Demonetisation, GST choke distribution of freebies to voters

Raids were conducted at Laggere ward under RR Nagar constituency and around 100 cookers and 350 Sarees were seized . Venkata chalapathi, JC Dasarahalli and MCC Officer, Bhaskar, AEE in coordination with police conducted the raids.

While candidates place bulk orders of saris, utensils and other goodies distributed free to lure voters, this election has seen a dip in such orders, thanks to demonetisation and GST.

Trade analysts also attribute the drop in poll-related purchases to stricter vigilance by the Election Commission.

A trader from Chickpete said a political agent from Anekal approached him to buy cheaper saris, priced around Rs 150, in bulk. “I got a call (from the agent) for bulk orders. I told him women may have to pay a heavier price wearing such cheap saris and advised him not to distribute them. But the deal fell through,” he said.

With demonetisation strangling cash flow, bulk orders are hard to come by, the trader added. “Online transactions are ruled out in such purchases,” he explained.

Another trader said the demand for cheaper saris was very high seven years ago from all political parties. Agents would shop in large numbers, but now, the demand has virtually dried up. “Agents would approach us to buy 200 to 500 saris. This year, business has dropped significantly,” he said.

One sari seller in Chickpete said he is aware of bulk deals happening in the night. “More than five lakh saris have been bought by JD(S) and BJP agents, while the Congress is going for pressure cookers and other household appliances,” he said.

According to an autorickshaw driver in Bommanahalli, BJP agents are asking citizens in the neighbourhood to show their voter IDs to claim pressure cookers.

Trade activist Sajjan Raj Mehta said poll officials are highly vigilant about bulk purchases this year. “Bulk purchases have become difficult for party agents this year. Earlier, they used to
freely approach the traders in Chickpete, but it is not possible now,” he said.

Mehta said the GST implementation has also tightened the hold on freebies since traders cannot make unaccounted-for sales.


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