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Candidates going a step further from traditional campaigning

Candidates going a step further from traditional campaigning

PESHAWAR: In every election campaign, the contestants mostly attract voters through publicity material, but in the ongoing electioneering some of them have gone a step further by doling out household items allotted to them as election symbols to win over voters.

With candidate contesting from just about every other street or mohallah, for either general or reserved seat in the village and neighbourhood councils across the province, the traditional way of electioneering through publicity material does not seem to be enough, as some have opted for innovative way of doling out household items to remind the voters of their election symbols, several candidates told Dawn.

That is why a candidate, who has been allotted rooster as his election symbol, is delivering roosters on the doorstep of his voters while some of them are distributing hats and clothes hangers. Such candidates feel they are lucky for being awarded election symbols with lower prices in the market which they can afford to distribute among the voters.

The contestants having pressure cooker, pedestal fan and thermos as election symbols are distributing such items among selected families because being expensive these items cannot be given to every voter.

The final data of the Election Commission of Pakistan shows that 88,420 candidates are contesting the upcoming local government elections scheduled to be held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on May 30. Of the total candidates, 77,033 are contesting the elections for the village and neighbourhood councils, including 39,079 vying for general seats, 15,700 for peasants, 14,224 for youths, 7,681 for women and 349 for non-Muslims. Similarly, 5,480 candidates are contesting the elections for general seats of district councils and 5,907 for the tehsil councils in the province.

“Every third and fourth person in our area can be seen wearing a colourful hat,” said one of the residents of Baluch Garhi located on the outskirts of the capital city. All the hats are being distributed by a candidate, Mohammad Ilyas, he said.

“The voters in my area are mostly farmers and they happily wear hats which protect them from the sun while working in the agriculture fields,” Mr Ilyas told Dawn. So far he has spent over Rs15,000 on buying hats, each costing him Rs70.

Sharing his experience with this correspondent, he said that a day earlier when he visited a house in his village council the owner demanded four hats, saying there were four voters in his house. Asked about the distribution of hats among the women voters, he smiled and said “women voters have not demanded hats from him”.

Similarly, candidates are also distributing hangers in the posh Hayatabad and interior city areas in their campaign. “The candidate in our area tells his voters to remember the clothes hanger while casting vote on the elections day,” a resident of Hayatabad told Dawn.

Azizullah, contesting election to the district council seat with rooster as his symbol, is also distributing live roosters among his voters. Roshan Khan, one of his supporters, said that Azizullah belonged to a poor family and couldn’t afford to give roosters to the voters. Rather, he said, it was his supporters who had collected donation for him.

“Everyday dozens of roosters are distributed among the poor voters,” he said, adding usually one rooster was given to a family. A resident of Budhu Samar Bagh said that a candidate in his area was giving one pedestal fan to one of his voters on daily basis through a draw and a large number of people could be seen in front of his house at the time of draw.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2015

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