In Nagaland, cash for votes comes with grand feast, banned liquor

In Nagaland, cash for votes comes with grand feast, banned liquor

KOHIMA | February 15, 2018

False voting one has heard of Induced labour, too. But induced voting? In Nagaland, that's the term for votes bought and sold to the highest bidder. The magnitude of the problem is so huge, the church, civil society and the Election Commission have launched a clean election campaign. But it is an uphill battle against an old problem that is just not going away.

At a village in one of the remote parts of the state, feasts this election season are a regular affair. The entire population turns out for a free lunch. The spread has every possible Naga delicacy on the table and alcohol too – notwithstanding the prohibition in the state. And not just food and wine, hard cash is also handed out to voters.

Is the feast customary, NDTV asked the host. Yes, came the answer. Everybody does it. There is a limit. A candidate can spend only a few lakhs on the feast. The Election Commission has set a limit of Rs. 20 lakh on campaigning.

Is this mode of campaigning legitimate? Yes, came the hesitant answer. It is not clear if the host knew that the free lunch is illegal and is considered bribery of voters.

And do the voters also expect money also? Answer: "Usually yes".

Off camera, anonymously, voters we spoke to said polls equal a bonus at five-year intervals. They take money from candidates of two or three parties and families promising to vote en bloc can really rake it in.

Reverend Keyho, head of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council which has been spearheading a 'Clean Election' campaign, said: "People openly talk about it. Say for one vote, candidates are paying two -three thousand rupees. So if my family has four-five votes, you put all those together. And people are very open about those things."

Source: NDTV

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