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‘Malpractice of using liquor to manipulate voters restricts development of constituencies’

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 | Purnima Bisht | Dehradun

Illegal distribution of liquor is a means heavily used by various political parties to bribe and manipulate voters, mostly men, in many parts of Uttarakhand ahead of elections which is probably one of the major reasons for the stunted growth of various constituencies. This is the opinion of several women and young voters who have witnessed this malpractice within their families and elsewhere. They said that though the practice is still followed in the urban areas, it has become more rampant in rural and remote areas. “I have seen most of the men rooting for the candidates who provide them alcohol and chicken. If they do not get sufficient bottles of alcohol from a certain political party, they get offended and obviously do not vote for it. Though some say they would not vote for the candidate of a certain party because they dislike him or her, they certainly do not say no to alcohol provided to them for free. For them, it is an opportunity to get freebies like alcohol and chicken that lasts only till the polling day,” said a 55-year-old Pushpa Negi from Tehri. She said that though women are not offered anything by the parties to influence them to vote, they generally vote for the candidate suggested by the male members of the family. On the question of why women do not vote as per their choice, she replied, “What difference does it make? No matter which party comes to power, it does not pay attention to poor people and only works for their own development. I do not even remember the candidate I voted for the last time.” Another 27-year-old woman from Almora, Mamta Bisht said that since most of the men in rural areas do not understand the long-term impact of their votes in choosing a right or wrong candidate, they see it as a chance to take advantage and go for petty materialistic things like alcohol in exchange for their votes. She said, “I have observed this malpractice since my childhood during every small and big election. It is not just alcohol but sometimes money is also given to lure voters. If a candidate gives a bottle or two of alcohol and a couple of notes to men, many along with their family members get ready to vote for the party. Actually, people do not expect the leaders here to work for their betterment as most of them have remained apathetic to the public’s needs. So rather than looking to vote for a good candidate, they enjoy free liquor and money as long as it lasts and this practice will continue to plague the elections here considering the present situations,” she opined.  Dehradun resident Geeta Singh said that such practices are also carried out in urban areas but less openly than in the rural areas. “The system of illegally distributing alcohol during the election season has also changed with time. Unlike the rural areas, party workers here remain very cautious about to whom they are giving these freebies to as chances of getting caught are higher in cities. However, people are manipulated by the parties for votes and it will continue to go on till the voters take their right to vote seriously. Several campaigns should be run by the administration across the state at least three months before the elections addressing these manipulative tactics of the parties and how badly it can affect their children’s future,” stated Singh. 

It is pertinent to mention here that since imposition of the model code of conduct on January 9, the authorities have seized about 25,676 litres of alcohol worth about Rs 1.19 crore in the state.

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