Free Press Journal

Hired workers in demand to create illusion of popularity


Bhayandar : Impressed by the huge presence of supporters at the offices of your local candidates and crowds accompanying them in campaign rallies?

Better take a closer look at the enthusiastic faces waving those flags and shouting slogans, they may be paid campaigners who are making a quick buck in the run-up to the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation polls scheduled on August 20.

Unemployed youth, students out to earn some pocket money and housewives keen to meet their household expenses are some of the paid campaigners hired by political parties to help them in their day-to-day electioneering work including  distribution of pamphlets\ voter slips, accompanying rallies, whispering drives or just to warm benches in the office to create an  illusion of public support and enthusiasm for a particular party or its candidate.

Based on their capability and communication skills, the paid volunteers are hired anywhere between Rs. 250 to Rs.500 for an eight hour stint. Those who volunteer with bikes are offered Rs. 1,000 to Rs.1,200 for a day’s services. And not to forget late night booze parties for  the favourite ones.

Interestingly a section of paid volunteers take assignments from multiple parties in different wards and juggle their duties.

“I split my time between two different parties away from my original ward, I have nothing to do with their ideology nor am I a voter. But this phase of elections is the best part of democracy as poor people like us get an opportunity to earn some extra money,” says Sarita (name changed) a housemaid in Mira Road.

A few manpower supply agencies are also helping candidates acquire professional help to create a crowd  strength which has often been considered as an indication of the popularity of political parties and can sway voters sitting on the fence.

With the expenditure limit capped at Rs 7 lakh, largescale manipulations in the day-to-day accounts of political parties cannot be ruled out.

Congress ousts four rebel candidates

Stung by their defiance, the local Congress unit on Saturday expelled four rebels for not withdrawing their  candidature and instead choosing to contest the MBMC polls against the official party nominees as independent candidates.

The four rebels who were expelled are Amrish Vadodariya (ward 20 B), Raju Doshi (ward 21 C), Bina Doshi and Rupa Pinto (both ward 21b), a press release issued by District Congress President Anil Sawant said. Despite being pacified, the quartet went ahead to contest as independents which led their expulsion on the directions of Congress party observer for the civic polls-Rajesh Sharma.