LS polls: Private eyes in demand as politicians snoop on rivals, colleagues

LS polls: Private eyes in demand as politicians snoop on rivals, colleagues

New Delhi | With poll fever gathering steam, business is booming for the city's detective agencies as politicians, especially aspiring candidates, are hiring private eyes to spy on their rivals and even colleagues.

Amid defections and switching of camps, detectives are being tasked by political parties to keep a tab on those who are likely to pass on important information to rivals or even switch allegiance in the coming days, industry experts said.

Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Managing Director of Delhi-based GDX Detectives Pvt Ltd told PTI that political espionage during the poll season has become an established phenomenon.

"Hiring detectives to know the strategies and information related to hidden criminal records, scandals, illicit relationships and videos related to that, or cases of corruption that have the potential to hit one's election campaign has always been the main focus," Sharma said.

"But this time, candidates and politicians also want tabs to be kept on their aides and associates to ensure that they are not in for a rude shock due to them colluding with their rivals," Sharma added.

Also, those who were overlooked in the candidate selection process are approaching the detectives to find material that may jeopardise the campaigns of those picked in their place, said Sharma.

And those who haven't got a ticket yet are approaching us to scoop out dirt about their rivals to strengthen their candidature, Sharma added.

Rajeev Kumar, Managing Director of City Intelligence Private Limited, said the hiring of detectives by parties and candidates begins several months before election dates are announced and includes the filing of RTIs.

"The information received through the RTIs could be minuscule but detectives are asked to build on that information," Kumar told PTI.

Sometimes, the information can be used at a later stage to wreck a successful candidate's chances of securing a portfolio, he said.

Information ranging from booth level data to the "weakness and vulnerabilities" of a candidate is procured by the detectives, Kumar added.

According to Kumar, the detectives are also tasked with finding out a political party's source of cash and liquor, the place where they are being stored and the methods being adopted to distribute them.

Political parties often distribute cash and liquor through illegal channels to influence the voters ahead of polls.

Naman Jain, managing director of the New Delhi-based detective agency Sleuths India said the role of private detective agencies in election campaigns has evolved significantly in recent times.

"Major political parties now enlist our services to conduct thorough background checks on their own candidates and assess their popularity compared to their opponents in specific areas.

"Additionally, parties seek our expertise in identifying the most promising candidates from their pool, aligning with the growing trend of introducing fresh faces into politics," Jain said.

Moreover, we are tasked with researching diverse regions and predicting electoral outcomes through comprehensive surveys. Our investigations extend to determining the popularity of individual candidates in specific locales and analysing their chances of success in the election results, Jain said.

If a spy agency has already been hired by a political party or an individual then according to the broad policy framework, it does not take any assignment from the opponents, Kumar said.

Regarding the budget, industry insiders said that the fees for such investigations can be exorbitant, depending on the type of investigation or follow-ups.

However, they refrained from revealing their charges.

"Clients are ready to offer any price for a favourable result," Kumar said.

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