Stern Returning Officers, police ensured celebrations didn’t go out of hand

As the D-day dawned, the five counting centres in the city turned into fortresses. With the city police imposing prohibitory orders under Section 144 from 6 a.m. till midnight and banning the sale of liquor, bursting of crackers, processions, protests and slogan shouting near the centres, the mood inside was sombre.

To begin with, no one was allowed in without valid IDs. Strict vigil at all ensured that no private vehicle entered the premises. Mobile phones were a strict no-no, except for the media.

Though party workers turned up in large numbers, eagerly queuing up outside the individual counting rooms, they were barred from lusty cheers after every round of counting. Even a single victory chant attracted sharp rebukes from the large number of security personnel stationed at the centres. At least in the beginning.

Raucous celebrations

However, as the victory margins became clearer towards the last rounds of counting, supporters began celebrating even before the final result was announced. Like at the R.C. College of Commerce and Management, where the Bangalore Rural votes were being counted. When supporters of Congress’s M.T.B. Nagaraj learnt he had trounced former Labour Minister B.N. Bache Gowda (BJP) by 7,139 votes to win Hoskote, they broke into raucous celebrations, much to the chagrin of the police who shushed them immediately.

However, outside the centres, it was Holi and Deepavali at once. Many star contenders, including Shantinagar MLA N.A. Haris, Shivajinagar MLA Roshan Baig and Gandhinagar MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao, who retained their seats, visited the counting centre in Mount Carmel College. One could have mistaken them for a cricket crowd, complete with drums, trumpets, flags, placards, painted faces, umbrellas, and people climbing up the compound walls of adjacent buildings to catch a glimpse of their leaders.

The traffic police was clearly outnumbered and this was evident when Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) supporters took out a ‘victory march’ from Palace Road towards Cantonment. The roads were blocked till late afternoon, inconveniencing the public. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters were conspicuous by their absence at this centre where the Bangalore Central votes were counted.

However, they were more visible at the counting centre for constituencies in Bangalore South, held at SSMRV College, Jayanagar. Though the BJP was routed in the State, loyal supporters of some leaders who managed victories rejoiced by spraying coloured powder.

Supporters enter centre

However, the scene was different at the counting centre for Bangalore Urban — the VHD Central Institute of Home Science — where four of the seven constituencies were captured by the BJP. Sporting party flags and shouting slogans, supporters blocked the entrance and went into the premises of the centre to cheer their leaders. Holding up the winning candidates, they were finally ordered to zip it by the Returning Officers and the police.

Supporters of candidates whose fate was being charted at the Maharanis College, Palace Road were kept out by the police who had cordoned them off at the entrance of Freedom Park so as to not let them disrupt traffic movement on the arterial road.