Stickers of candidates and their party symbols on beer and liquor bottles have been seen for the first time this election in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. While it is not a secret that booth and ward-level election managers of political parties distribute liquor bottles to lure people to public meetings as well as to vote for them, this is the first time that liquor is being distributed so openly with stickers on them which makes it easy to identify which party and whom the liquor belongs to.
In Andhra Pradesh, beer bottles with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSRCP stickers were seen in the hands of people mobilized to attend public meetings. In Telangana, pink stickers with photos of candidates and TRS leaders pasted on beer and liquor bottles were seen at several places.
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Sources in the parties said that the liquor was purchased and stocked 2-3 weeks back in godowns and safehouse of party election managers. “If there is a public meeting or roadshow in an area, stickers would be affixed on the bottles and distributed to party activists, supporters and to those who agree to attend the meetings. Sometimes, people get two or more bottles depending on how many meetings of different party candidates they attend,” informed one party’s mandal election manager.
In Telangana, since March first week when the model code came into effect, 3.50 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 4.30 crores has been seized. In AP, liquor worth Rs 9 crores has been seized till Wednesday.
Sources in political parties said that candidates’ expenditure on liquor has gone up because people are no longer accepting half bottles. “Those who prefer beer demand the 650 ml bottles which are still cheaper while those wanting whisky demand full bottles which are expensive because they want premium brands only. Expectations have really gone up. Since so much expenditure is being made why not use the bottles to paste candidate and party stickers before distributing?” he said.