It's raining money in Bellary

It's raining money in Bellary

Supporters deny they were paid for campaigning

Here we come: Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah campaigns for Congress candidate Ramprasad (left) in Bellary on Friday.KPN

With just three days left for voting, majority of the lodges are full. Political leaders and their aides have occupied all the rooms. The roads on which the lodges are located are busy with campaign vehicles. Bars and restaurants are making a roaring business.

Businesses at Bellary had taken a severe beating after the Supreme Court suspended mining in the district and the bypoll could offset the adverse effect, at least temporarily.

The Election Commission has fixed the expenditure ceiling at Rs 16 lakh per candidate.

Ten  mobile squads have been constituted to keep an hawk’s eye on the campaigning. However, given the high stakes, the candidates appear unnerved and  continue with their spendthrift act.

The trend is more pronounced in rural parts. “Local supporters” assemble at a vantage point to extend a “rousing welcome” to their “leaders.” Crackers worth thousands of rupees are burst once the neta lands at the spot. It is being said that each “supporter” is paid a minimum of Rs 200 a day.

The mobile squad discreetly records the entire campaign on its camera. But the officials too cannot initiate any action in the absence of a complaint supported by evidence.

“None admits of payment of money to take part in the campaign. Our officials often drew a blank from the participants and hence our hands are tied,” Returning Officer Shashikant Senthil said. With the electioneering reaching its crescendo, its festive time in villages.

Slogans rent the candidates arrive with their motorcade for campaigning. As netas of all parties visit villages in droves, the residents get free breakfast and meal.