Man with paralysis votes, one who drove 300 km couldn’t

Among the lakhs of voters who exercised their franchise on Tuesday in the elections to the BMC were hidden stories of exemplary dedication to the democratic process, and how the best efforts by some failed to result in a vote cast. Two such stories were those of Abdul Gaffar Shaikh and Shivaji Shankarrao More, both senior citizens.

‘Voting is basic duty’

The left side of Mr. Shaikh’s body has been paralysed since 1992, but this hasn’t deterred the 76-year-old resident of Shere Punjab in Andheri (East) from voting since he turned 18. His pride is unmistakeable. “Every citizen has to step out and vote. This is basic,” says Mr. Shaikh, who expects the winning party to bring in better cleanliness and roads. “No one can match Mumbai. If only it was cleaner and the roads were better.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Shaikh, a retired MSEB accounts officer, walked to his polling centre at the Cannosa High School with his daughter Samreen’s help. The stairs were a bother, but Mr. Shaikh braved it to emerge from the polling centre with ink on his finger.

His condition doesn’t deter him from going for regular walks, but the condition of the roads gets him agitated. “The roads are so bad that one cannot walk in a straight line. Some places don’t have footpaths left. He faces a lot of difficulty at times,” Samreen, an insurance professional, said.

She added, “It upsets me to to see my father struggling for something as basic as a morning or evening walk. The city has to become more senior citizen- and disabled-friendly. My parents believe that change is possible only by exercising this power, so my younger sister and I have been regular voters,” she added.

‘Who cast my vote?’

“How can someone vote in my name?” a visibly agitated Shivaji Shankarrao More demanded to know, but no one at the polling booth had an answer. Mr. More, 62, drove 300 km from his village in Satara to cast his vote at Universal High polling station in Dahisar (East), only to find that his vote had been ‘cast’ before he could do so.

“I was taken aback. How could the election officials allow that? I have come all this way to vote and they told me, you have already voted,” Mr More, whose serial number is 1195, told The Hindu. He said election officials initially tried to turn him away, even after checking his voter card (KDD4981247) and his finger for ink.

“I entered the booth between 9.30 a.m. and 9.45 a.m.. There were five to six officials to check voters’ names and verify their credentials. The person who voted instead of me may have a similar name, but his photo must be different,” Mr. More, a former Air India official, said.

When he insisted on voting, officials at the booth went into a tizzy. “They did not know what to do. They consulted among themselves and said I would have to vote manually as the electronic voting has already been done in my name. They took my signature on a separate form, and I was handed a ballot paper using which I cast my vote.”

It took more than 30 minutes to complete formalities, and his ballot paper was placed in a separate envelope. He was also told that it would be sent to the counting centre and counted separately with the postal ballots.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 2:36:59 AM |

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