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Here’s why YSRCP is encouraging unanimous polls in Panchayats

In a weird case of publicity stunt right before the Panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP-led government is going all out to declare special incentives for unanimous Panchayats. The publicity is so loud and flamboyant that the list of incentives have made it to the front page of daily newspapers in the form of print ads. 
 
As per the order (GO 34), the state government will pay a cash incentive ranging from a minimum of ₹5 lakh for a gram panchayat with population of less than 2,000 to a maximum of ₹20 lakh for each gram panchayat with a population of more than 10,000, if the elections are unanimous.
 
This practice encourages panchayats to elect the Sarpanch unanimously, without any contest. The strategy behind the cash incentives is clear — the more number of panchayats declare themselves unanimous, the more they favour the YSRCP which is the ruling party in the state.
While this is obviously not a new practice, the YSRCP cleverly increased the quantum of incentives manifoldly. As part of its election tactics since the 2019 campaign, the party has not shied away from distributing cash or money directly as part of its strategy to woo people or leaders directly. 
 
In the background, the YSRCP has roped in all its MLAs and MPs along with its karyakartas to ensure that many or most panchayats declare themselves unanimous in order to see that there is no contest and YSRCP can keep its lead in the state. 
 
However, going by the ground reality, despite YSRCP maintaining its voter base through its welfare schemes and measures, it is seeing an anti-incumbency wave brewing gradually across the state due to flippant decisions. This, political analysts say, is one of the reasons for the party to believe that its voter base has slowly started to erode. 
 
And, hence, the YSRCP is not taking any chances and ensuring that cash does the job for them. However, the YSRCP is treading cautiously in this regard given the growing ambitions of the BJP and an already existing potential political threat from the TDP. 
 
Meanwhile, there are also reports that local YSRCP leaders are allegedly threatening those contesting in the Panchayat polls and asking them to back off in order to make the YSRCP candidate win unanimously. Earlier too, in local body polls, the YSRCP used a similar tactic of threats and physical violence on the Opposition. And, this time too, it is following the same modus operandi to ensure that at least 25% of the seats are unanimously declared in favour of the ruling party. 
 
But, several questions are being raised on how the YSRCP can offer such ridiculous cash incentives to interfere with a democratic process such as free and fair elections. “Every person/voter has the right to choose a representative of their choice. You cannot buy them out with cash. That is not a fair election,” said a political analyst who wanted to remain anonymous. 
 
Other voices in the political circles too believe that if such a process is allowed, then the future elections can all be bought out through money and there will be no fair elections. Well, it is for the people to decide at the end of the day. And, the last time we checked, India is still a Democracy! 
 

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