Parties ignore Election Commission guidelines, offer food to woo voters on polling day in Mumbai

Political parties assured lunch and breakfast to the residents in Malabar Hills and in Andheri East.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala , Meghna Yelluru | Mumbai | Updated: October 16, 2014 5:37:59 pm

Political parties, it seems, took a last shot at wooing voters in their favour on the final polling day, and they did so through what appeases the voters the most – food. At least two incidents, one in Malabar Hills and one in Andheri East, were reported where residents were assured breakfast and lunch by political parties.

On late Tuesday night, a letter was circulated around in several upscale Malabar Hill’s societies inviting people for breakfast on Wednesday morning. One such letter, under the Surya Cooperative Housing Society’s letterhead, urged voters to come out and vote. It then said: “Surya Apartments has organised Jalebi Gathia breakfast in the morning (courtesy Mr Mangal Prabhat Lodha)”.

The letter drew eye balls with several taking to social media to report the incident.

While campaigning deadline was set by the Election Commission until 5 pm Monday evening, the breakfast invitation in the Gujarati populated area luring residents with Jalebi and Gathia, is a blatant violation of the code of conduct.

When Newsline approached the building society, three watchmen confirmed the news that a circular was made referring to the breakfast arrangements made by the building secretary. According to them, a few police officials had reprimanded the building secretary, near the entrance of the building, for having signed the circular. The worker also said that the food that was expected to arrive at 9:30 in the morning was cancelled eventually.

When contacted, the secretary was not present in the building. His wife, sounding reluctant to give information regarding the incident, said that she was unaware of its occurrence. The spokesperson for sitting MLA Lodha, however, refuted the claims. “He did not order such a thing. It is obvious that other political parties have a hand in it,” the spokesperson said.

In a separate incident, residents in Mograpada slum (Andheri East) were lured with sumptuous breakfast followed by a brief break when they were expected to go out and vote after which they were served lunch. According to a female resident, who wished anonymity, a lot of residents were going to vote for the party to get the free food.

“I don’t know the party’s name, but the symbol is ‘haath ka punja’. I will vote so that I get lunch,” the slum-dweller said. When contacted, sitting MLA Suresh Shetty said, “The food is only for volunteers who were at polling booths not everyone. How can it be for general public?”

Following the Jalebi-Gathia episode, Congress candidate Susieben Shah filed a complaint with the returning officer on Wednesday afternoon.

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