Chandigarh: Drugs, booze and vote-and-roll in Punjab: about hundreds of coupons- IOUs basically- promise rum, whiskey and other liquor to holders and were discovered over the weekend as bait for votes.
Chief Election Officer of the state VK Singh has planned traps in alcohol shops in key districts to see if voters try to trade them in but it is literally looking for needles in a haystack.
“It is for the first time that we are seeing the coupon system. We got this after someone tipped us off on our 24-hour call centre,” said VK Singh, the Chief Election Officer in the state, which votes on Saturday. He has placed under watch shops that sell alcohol in politically strategic districts to see if people appear with the coupons to trade them in.
The coupons may be an innovation, but political parties offering alcohol for votes is an election habit that’s proved near impossible to break. Over the weekend, officials seized 10,000 bottles from an old cotton mill, not far from Lambi, where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is running against Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress. 5,355 bottles of local liquor, 1,306 bottles of IMFL and 3,480 bottles of beer were recovered.
Unlike other states, Punjab’s voters are also being lured with drugs, say officials. 22 dogs are being used by the Election Commission to sniff out narcotics. Kairy, a Labrador, busted nearly 50 kilos of poppy husk in a Maruti Zen earlier this month.
With a raging addiction established as one of the state’s biggest problems, political parties have, in their manifestos, provided plans of action to combat drugs. But thousands of kilos of poppy husk, used in a slew of opiates, are being transported in vehicles and trains. A cylinder in a goods train arriving from Pakistan was found to be smuggling drugs from Lahore. “In the last few days, we anticipate that distribution will increase but we are ready for it,” said Mr Singh.