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Bed, bread and bus: Parties offer poll sops to AP voters in TN
For 29-year-old V Shoba Shree and her family, who moved to Chennai from Andhra Pradesh, it’s vacation time, especially during elections. Shoba, her mother and her husband travel to their native Nellore to cast their ballot but there’s a catch. They don’t spend even a dime on this entire exercise.
It is election bonanza for several thousands of Andhra Pradesh labourers working in Chennai and its outskirts as political parties in the neighbouring State offer attractive tour packages to them so that they can exercise their franchise at their respective native district. The package includes ‘free bus travel’ and ‘attractive gifts’ as per the voter’s choice. Accordingly, agents have already been appointed by parties to woo voters. The agent starts with preparing a list of ‘prospective’ voters and approaching them with a ‘good tour schedule’. One such agent, on conditions of anonymity, said, “We will take care of the bus fares (to and fro). In addition, food and accommodation will also be made available to the voters.” He added that free gifts, mostly in demand from female voters, will be given out.
Statistics by the Tamil Nadu Labour Department reveal that there are two lakh labourers from Andhra Pradesh working in the city and suburbs alone. Most workers are employed as housemaids, manual scavengers and at construction sites across Chennai and surrounding districts. Many of these labourers are from Chittoor, Nellore, Cuddapah and Ongole.
Having come to know about these statistics, political parties in Andhra Pradesh are keen to get most of these votes that exist in Tamil Nadu.
A senior official from the Labour Department said that all the workers have voter IDs, but registered from Andhra Pradesh. “They haven’t changes their voter ID to cast their votes in Tamil Nadu,” he added. “This year, we can choose any household articles such as cookers and table plates among others,” S Vijaya, a scavenger working in Anakaputhur municipality, said about the gifts offered.
According to her “election tour” schedule includes going on the voting day and exercisiung her franchise with family, good food at hotel and back on the next day.