Allegations of gift distribution to voters by political parties, including the ruling AIADMK and the Opposition DMK, have surfaced in Karur.
Though both Dravidian majors are yet to finalise seat-sharing arrangements with their allies, electioneering has begun in the constituency soon after the schedule was announced.
Both parties have formed booth committees and started reaching out to the voters. The sitting MLA and Transport Minister, M.R. Vijayabaskar, is expected to be re-nominated by the AIADMK. Aravakurichi MLA and former Minister V. Senthil Balaji, of the DMK, is trying to contest against Mr. Vijayabaskar.
It is alleged that the two parties have started distributing gifts at night. While one is said to have distributed stainless steel plates, the other has allegedly handed out saris, dhotis and stainless steel plates to many voters at Vengamedu, Kulathupalayam,Sengunthapur- am, Rayanur and Pasupathipalayam.
Ward secretaries and functionaries, hand-picked by the parties, would visit the houses in their wards during the day and alert the residents to expect “gifts or cash” late at night or in the early hours. They invariably keep their promises.
“A man, who claimed to be representing the DMK, delivered three stainless steel plates for three voters at my home on February 28. The next day, another person, said to be of the AIADMK, handed over three sets of saris and dhoties. They do not seem to be wary of election officials,” said a 50-year-old man who runs a textile unit at Sengunthapuram.
He said he had employed 60 persons at his unit. Of them, 35 were from Karur. All of them had received stainless steel plates, saris and dhoties from the DMK and the AIADMK.
M. Pughal Murugan, a leader of the Makkal Needhi Maiam, said the distribution of gifts had been taking place openly. Thousands of voters had been given gifts even before the candidates were announced by the DMK and the AIADMK, he said.
Collector-cum-District Election Officer S. Malarvizhi told The Hindu that she had not received any complaint about the distribution of gifts, though she had received complaints about the violation of the model code of conduct. A team would be asked to verify the claims immediately. Officials had been asked to check out whether bulk purchases of stainless steel plates, saris and dhoties had taken place in Karur or other areas.