The model code of conduct might be giving politicians a hard time as the Election Commission is monitoring expenses like a hawk. But for a few smart party workers, the weeks ahead of the polling day are an opportunity to ensure their candidates earn the goodwill of voters, with the help of a little technology.

According to sources who are involved with campaigns of several MLAs, the IT city of Bengaluru and other major cities in the state are rapidly adopting a new ‘model’ way of ensuring that bribes reach influential voters. Executed with the precision of a financing company, voters who can assure parties that they can gather at least 15 votes are given the option of shopping online, usually from e-commerce sites, and claim a reimbursement from the nearest party office. In extreme cases, the party workers order gadgets and other appliances using e-commerce sites and arrange for delivery to the voter’s house.

“Purchasing goods online by workers themselves is a last resort. It is only used when the voter is influential and the matter is urgent. The vigilance of the Election Commission ensures that ordering products online is not widespread. However, most party workers tie up with local dealers, and influential voters can claim a reimbursement of up to 70 per cent of the product value,” said a campaign manager who has worked on state and Parliamentary elections over the years.

The manager, who did not want to be named, said, “Online shopping by party workers for voters is a new trend that is catching up. It is more popular in constituencies which are not in the spotlight. Such favours are not given to everyone but to those who can surely get at least 15 votes for the party.”

Such an arrangement also solves the problem of trying to find the best gift for voters. “People can order whatever they want online and take the bill to the party office to claim 60 to 70 per cent of the cost. In other cases, a list is made of the most likely items that families in a constituency would want,” the manager said.

According to Professor Trilochan Sastry, founder-trustee of the Association of Democratic Reforms, this kind of approach is unique. “I haven’t heard of e-commerce websites being used to give gifts to voters. I believe the EC can track such transactions, given the technological advancements today,” he said.

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