'Commission' drives ZP, TP contestants

They get an opportunity to make money by undertaking public works

But, interestingly, the money they end up spending to get elected, even if it as per the Election Commission’s ceiling, is much more than what they get as honorarium during their five-year term.

Consider this: A ZP member is entitled to a monthly honorarium of just Rs 1,200, while a TP member gets a meagre Rs 750. They also get a fee of Rs 150 per sitting, whenever the council meets. The president and the vice-president get a car and higher allowance compared to others. But the honorarium they get over the five-year term is pittance compared to what they spend to get elected.

Then what lures them to the poll contest? It is the position they occupy and the respect they command, if elected. The main attraction for many of them, though, is that they get an opportunity to make money by undertaking public works.

Purushottama, a member of Anekal taluk panchayat, said: “It is the designation and respect we command in our constituencies that matter more than honorarium. A position in panchayat bodies is essential to get recognition in the party and grow in politics,” he said.

As many as 29 departments come under zilla panchayats. The members have a say in the affairs of these departments. Besides, they get back the money spent in the election in the form of commission for construction works granted for their constituencies. A former member of a taluk panchayat said the efficiency of a member reflects in how many development works he gets for his constituency. It is quite known that the elected representatives get a share in the money allotted for a particular work. In some cases, members take up work contracts in benami names.

Elections to local bodies is important for parties as it is an occasion to strengthen the parties at the grassroots level. The parties spend exorbitantly for campaigning. MLAs pump in funds to ensure that their party wins the maximum local body seats in their constituencies, so that the winners stand by them during the next Assembly elections.

A bearing on CM’s position

According to sources in the BJP, the party is making all efforts to come to power in at least 20 ZPs of the total 30. Chief Minister Yeddyurappa has taken the elections seriously, because the party’s performance will have a bearing on his position.

The BJP is ready to spend up to Rs 25 lakh for a ZP seat and Rs 10 lakh for a TP seat. Depending on the capacity of the candidates and the MLAs, the expenditure may go up in constituencies where the fight is tough, sources said.

The Congress and the JD(S) do not lag behind. According to a Congress functionary, the party will give funds up to a maximum of Rs 50,000 for a ZP seat and Rs 25,000 for a TP seat. But the rest of the money has to be ‘managed’ by the candidates and local leaders. The JD(S) has decided to concentrate on seats in old Mysore region and a few taluks in North Karnataka where the party has a strong base. The party will spend more in these areas compared to other constituencies.

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