Polls come as windfall for private sleuths
Political espionage is the name of the game in India's largest state of Rajasthan, with wannabe MPs trying to ferret out information on rivals they face in parliamentary polls.
"We are getting a number of enquiries from various parties to conduct investigations," said Suresh Singh of Hawk Security and Investigating.
Political parties are hiring private detective agencies to clandestinely figure out strategies of their opponents.
Singh added it has been good times for them since early March.
The election has not only brought a windfall for the detectives, but for retired military personnel as well -- especially those who possess license for carrying arms, according to the sleuth.
They are being sought after to provide security cover.
"Usually 80 per cent of the staff being employed by security and detective agencies in the state comprise retired defence personnel," Singh noted.
A Congress activist agreed that candidates were hiring detectives, saying that the purpose was to help them know about their acceptability among voters and get to know their weakness. "It helps us to improve our position," he added.
Singh confirmed the statement. "We are hired for various assignments - from judging the mood of the electorate to digging out political strategies of opponents.
"Each of us is paid Rs.400 to Rs.500 a day," said Rameshwar Jat, an investigator in a local security agency. According to him, the investigation goes on for over a month.
Private investigators are also being hired to spot black sheep in the parties.
"There are times when party workers or even officials are engaged in damaging a candidate's prospects. The party approaches us to identify them. Our specialised team does that clandestinely," said a manager of a city-based agency.
"There is nothing wrong in finding out the strategies of an opponent," a BJP leader said, adding that elections "like war, demand outperforming the opponent and if these agencies can help you in doing so then why not engage them".
Added a candidate: "Sometimes you get misleading feedback from party workers portraying a rosy picture for a particular candidate. In such incidents, the detective agencies come in handy who help us get the true picture."
There are over 70 security and investigative agencies operating in the city alone. For all of them it's the time to feel good as 25 Rajasthan's Lok Sabha constituencies in the state go to poll May 5.