Stars to set-top boxes matter in Karnataka poll heat

Bangalore, April 16 (IANS) The May 5 Karnataka assembly polls are turning out to be a great time for both age-old beliefs in star alignment and modern technology of digitisation of telecasts. Some contestants are said to be distributing set-top boxes to voters even while seeking astrologers’ advise on whether the stars foretell victory.

This might be perfect blend of belief and technology but election authorities in the state are not impressed as set-top box distribution is bribing voters.

However they have not been able to catch hold of the candidate or candidates indulging in the act in Bangalore, though they acknowledge receiving complaints.

Distribution of Set-top boxes is the latest to join the traditional vote-getters – money, liquor, sarees and “badoota” (non-vegetarian feasts).

Since the election schedule was announced last month bringing into force the model code of conduct to ensure free and fair polls, police have been almost daily seizing cash, sarees, watches and wall-clocks meant for distribution to voters from various parts of the state.

While not giving up on these traditional offerings, some candidates are said to be trying to woo voters with the promise of paying school fees for a year while others ready to pick up the admission fee tab.

The ‘Ugadi’ Kannada New Year festival celebrated on April 11 also came in handy for some smart candidates as they worked out arrangements with known shop-keepers to give free groceries to selected people in the area.

One such instance came to light on festival eve in east Bangalore with police raiding a shop and seizing rice, maida, jaggery and cooking oil worth nearly Rs.3 million.

However, notwithstanding all sorts inducements, a large number of candidates continue to bank on their astrologers to suggest auspicious time to file nomination papers and start campaign, some add numerologists advice to strengthen their winning prospects while some others perform special ‘yagna or homa’.

Of course politicians sporting many rings on their fingers with gemstones of various hues continue to lend colour to the otherwise dull, scandals-ridden politics in the state.

The believers in astrology, numerology, benefits from gemstones according to their colour and shape may need really strong alignment of these powers this time as, ironically, the poll notification opening the nominations for the poll was issued on April 10 which was ‘Amavasya’, the inauspicious New Moon or No Moon Day according to Hindu calender.

Nominations close April 17.

With candidates spending millions of rupees over and above the official expenditure limit for the polls, it is no wonder they want stars to shine on them while firmly believing that in reality it is set-top boxes, money, liquor and other earthly things that bring votes.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

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