“Thank you,” says Kumra Maruti, the Village Revenue Officer at Pochamloddi, in Asifabad (ST) Assembly constituency, as he proffers a piece of sweet to the tribal voters coming out after casting their votes at the local polling station housed in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya which has been designated a Model Polling Station (MPS). The used-to-ill-treatment tribal voters were amused not only by the courtesy, but the use of English word to express gratitude coming from the VRO.
The courtesy of officials and the spruced up MPS at this tribal habitation is perhaps an indicator of the shape of things to come so far as organising elections is concerned.
For the first time, the Election Commission of India has come up with the idea of establishing a few MPS in each of the Assembly constituencies as an experiment in addressing voter apathy and ushering in the much needed change in atmosphere at polling stations.
These special polling stations — there are 10 located in as many Assembly constituencies in the district — are well ‘decorated’ to give the small area a festive look. There are all basic facilities like drinking water, tents to accommodate voters, functioning toilets and ramps for the physically disabled and staff to guide voters within the premises etc for the voters’ convenience.
Though the ECI has given certain guidelines and instructions on establishment of Model Polling Stations, they have been changed according to the ethos in Adilabad. For example, all such polling stations have been set up with minimum additional expenditure as the proposed Rs. 60,000 as cost for setting them up was rather unaffordable.
There are many aspects like queue management and priority in voting for the infirm, physically disabled, aged voters or lactating mothers which have been done without spending money. What required additional funds is the external beautification, provision of an air-cooler and purchase of sweets to be offered to voters as they exit after casting their votes.
“The MPS is a welcome experience,” observed Kumra Kamalabai, a visually handicapped voter. “I was provided all the help I needed to cast my vote without encountering the usual rash treatment which I normally get,” she added.
All basic facilities like drinking water, tents to accommodate voters, functioning toilets and ramps for the physically disabled are provided