Sources reveal that political parties are shelling Rs.400 (men) and Rs.450 (women) for campaigns and show-of-strength in the build-up for civic polls as they hire supporters not only from city but out of state as well
For 48-year-old Ramkaran Yasti, who works at a suburban railway stall washing dishes, election time brings the utmost joy. While the city goes on a shopping frenzy during festival seasons, election times sees the Yasti family buying new clothes, dinning in a small restaurant and at times even decorating their house.
Yasti, who earns Rs.100 per day from his 14 hour job, fetches around Rs.400 as he tags along a political party for their campaigns. Denying revealing the political party for which he and his family campaign Yasti said, “The season of elections is a boon time for us. Political parties who kick start their campaigns and show of strength events pay us for our presence in their events.”
Yasti, a resident of Kurla discloses that he is not alone in this business and was recruited by a friend. “I have a family of six. Apart from me my elder son drives a rickshaw for which we have borrowed a loan from bank. At times paying installments becomes every hectic, in 2002, I had spoken about my financial crisis to my friend who then asked to join him in this business,” and has never looked back added Yasti.
Pay rise with every election
Having participated in two civic elections and a state poll, Yasti said that the amount of per day wage has increased with every poll. “The pay for the 2002 civic poll was around Rs.150 for men and Rs.200 for women along with lunch and dinner. The state polls saw us been paid around Rs.300 for men and Rs.350 for women,” said Yasti.
As politicians gear up for their campaigns and marches, rates are already been discussed by some ‘social workers’ with the politicians. “This year we are expecting to get around Rs.400 and Rs.450. There are also demands of caps and footwear,” said Yasti.
Social Worker-cum-Hiring Agent
Speaking to ADC, Neelam Gorhe, spokesperson, Shiv Sena said, “I have witnessed these tactics used by some politicians to build-up workforce for their demonstrations in the state polls. One can see these hired supporters feasting on Biryanis and Puri-Bhajis during the campaigns. Ask them who the leader is and they bear a blank look. Some supporters for the money offered support multiple parties and many a times same supporters are seen in campaigns of rival parties as well.”
Another corporator from Mumbai requesting anonymity added that, several politicians contact these so-called social workers to get the supporters in their camp. “These politicians do not have the time and patience to approach individual homes and chawls.
They contact a well-known social worker and pay negotiate with the rate as the supporters are hired based on days of campaign,” said the corporator.
Bring on friends and family
Sources close to several political parties have reported that, per day wage lures crowds from outside state to flood in the city before the polls. “Men and women who have been part of this business invite their family and friends from other states as well for the campaigns. Sighting reasons as medical check-up, education and employment these crowds earn around Rs.2,500 to Rs.3,000 for two weeks and return back,” said a senior politician from western suburbs.