Freebies have become synonymous with elections. Voters are really spoilt for choice. But, freebies during bypolls seems a bit unusual. That’s what happened at the recent bypolls held in Erode East, Tamil Nadu. According to a source, at least 18 gifts were given to each voter by various political parties. It was Diwali in February with smart watches, mini fans, pressure cookers and a host of consumer durables. Besides, liquor and biryani packs were distributed every day until the voting day. Attached ingeniously to the biryani packs were what is euphemistically called “sweet boxes” in TN; cash in disguise. The Erode voters felt wooed and wanted. Vikatan TV’s social media handle talked about Erode East’s “withdrawal symptoms” when the election campaigners packed up and left the constituency. A funny incident doing the rounds is one for the books. TTV Dinakaran who decided not to field his candidate in the final run up, had a huge stock of pressure cookers — his party’s symbol that was allotted to another. A DMK minister is said to have asked Dinakaran to sell the stash at 50% discount! His advice “the symbol itself is not yours. Salvage the cost of this huge consignment. Sell it at 50% to me.” Commerce is the one abiding force that moves both winners and losers.