‘Voters should think beyond freebies like illegal liquor during elections for better future’


Illegal liquor distribution is rampant during elections allegedly to bribe and manipulate voters in various parts of Uttarakhand before polling in the Lok Sabha elections. Though there is no official evidence of how much liquor is actually distributed to manipulate voters during elections, it is well-known that liquor is indeed used by political parties to influence voters. It is usually difficult to find concrete evidence in the matter as neither political parties nor the voters reveal anything about such freebies as it will benefit no one. However, the official data gives an idea about the movement of illegal liquor in the State since the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) on March 16. According to the police, they seized over 43,214 litres of illegal liquor worth over 2.06 crore in the past one month. The police seized the bulk of illegal liquor from three districts- Haridwar with 11,182 litres worth Rs 66.34 lakh, Udham Singh Nagar with 11,384 litres worth Rs 32.49 lakh and Nainital with 10,000 litres worth Rs 35.58 lakh. Experts believe that this seizure is reportedly a small fraction of the actual quantity of illegal liquor that was brought into the State ahead of the elections. It is believed that a section of society accepts such perks during elections because they have stopped believing in the promises of political parties and focus only on materialistic things like liquor and cash that they can enjoy for free during elections. Many have also claimed that though they do accept such offerings from political parties as freebies, it does not affect their decision to vote for a suitable candidate during elections. A shopkeeper in Dehradun Naresh Bansal said, “No party is doing any significant work for us. People also talk about cash distributions ahead of elections but I have never noticed that in my area. However, I have accepted a few bottles of alcohol offered to me. I know it is not considered ethically right but if I won’t then somebody else will accept those perks. Then why not me? I do not think it harms anybody. Politicians are not working for people’s welfare anyway.” An 82-year-old man Sukhram Singh from Rudrapur said that the distribution of liquor to lure voters is not a new practice in the State but it is certainly ruining the future of the State. “Earlier I used to see mainly underprivileged people and labourers who used to be lured by political party workers via some cash or alcohol. Their conditions hardly ever changed. However, I have observed that many well-to-do people accept such freebies from party workers. Many of them claim that it does not influence their voting thought process.  But I believe it can influence one’s voting decision to some extent.” Some women also opined that it is mostly the men who are lured by parties using alcohol. A school teacher from Mussoorie Sapna Negi said, “I have seen several men around me who show loyalty to the candidates who provide alcohol to them. If the parties fail to provide before elections, many feel betrayed and offended and do not vote for them. For them, it is an opportunity to enjoy these freebies till the polling day rather than seeing it as a day that can have a significant impact on their lives. This mentality is probably one of the important reasons for the stunted development of various areas of our State.”

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