Money overtook all other factors in bypoll: Study
Chennai: Voters are as much to be blamed as the corrupting candidates and their cash-rich parties, researchers who had ventured to feel the RK Nagar pulse say.
A large segment of people in the constituency openly craved for money for their votes and were more than happy receiving the high-denomination crisp currencies. And they had ready retorts to justify their greed when the researchers asked them if it was proper to take money for votes. "Some of them said there was nothing wrong in receiving when there are givers, some others reasoned it was perfectly fine taking money now because nothing good would come their way after the elections and a few others argued it was good for economy because this way, black money got back into circulation", said Prof Dr S. Rajanayagam, who headed the 'People Studies' team that surveyed RK Nagar during April 1-9.
"This is not their money in any case; they are only spending from the money they had looted from us", was another argument from the 'wise' voter in RK Nagar. Some others pretended influenced by conscience and whispered, "We will take money but we will vote for a good candidate of our choice".
With money being the most potent factor influencing the by-poll, TTV Dinakaran would have won hands down if the Election Commission had not cancelled the April 12 exercise, said Dr Rajanayagam, quoting from his survey team's findings-35.4 per cent votes for TTV as against 25.9 for the DMK. AIADMK (OPS) would have got only 20.6 per cent votes, the survey claimed, while stressing on the power of money in the long-impoverished constituency.
RK Nagar shocked Karthi Chidambaram too. The Congress leader runs a NGO called 'G-67' for 'creating positive public awareness on critical social issues'.
When its team undertook an ambitious project there to obtain a pledge from the people that they would not take money for votes, many hesitated to sign. "Some expressed fear they would lose the money by signing, some others said they have already got the money so what's the point in signing now", said Karthi, expressing distress at such deterioration of public morals.
Arguing that the evil of electoral corruption that badly hurt democracy can be defeated only if the people functioned with conscience, self-respect and dignity, Karthi said, "Woefully, this is on decline in Tamil Nadu".
The sad truth is that though RK Nagar showed us the zenith of this evil, the public craving for the candidate's bribe has been loudly demonstrated in every election in recent times, starting perhaps with the infamous Thirumangalam by-election in January 2009.
"People are now demanding money, which is very sad", rued former Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta. "Mahatma Gandhi had said politics should be a branch of good ethics and morality; but now, it is totally devoid of these essential values", he told DC.