Zest to vote, breakfast offer and study visit mark polling in Bangalore

Voters waiting to cast their ballot in front of a make-shift polling booth in Marutinagar which comes under Bangalore North Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.

Voters waiting to cast their ballot in front of a make-shift polling booth in Marutinagar which comes under Bangalore North Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: – PHOTO: Anil Kumar Sastry

Bangalore Bureau

BANGALORE: During the general elections, Armymen posted at various units in Bangalore used to send postal ballots to the counting centre of the constituencies in their native places where their names were on the electoral rolls. But on Thursday, hundreds of personnel exercised the option made available to them recently to cast their votes directly at booths near their centres.

For the first time, Army personnel here lined up outside the polling booths near MEG and Centre, adjacent to Ulsoor Lake and Jaibharath Nagar, both falling in the newly created Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency, to cast their votes directly. The military personnel, who voted in Bangalore included officials, both commissioned and non-commissioned and their wives, besides newly recruited trainees.

Free breakfast

Defence Ministry officials said the Election Commission had recently given Army personnel the option of either sending postal ballots or voting directly. “Around 4,000 Army personnel in Bangalore opted to vote directly at various booths across the city after registering their names in the electoral rolls and procuring for themselves voter ID cards”, an official said.

Political parties tried various tricks to bring voters to the polling booths on Thursday.

Campaign managers of one national party came out with a breakfast offer for voters in some areas of the Bangalore North Constituency, including Talaghattapura.

Whoever came to the polling booth and took the voters’ identification slips from its men were given a breakfast coupon to be redeemed at a hotel near the booth. Soon, the hotel was flooded with people. In fact, the cashier had to temporarily suspend service as the hotel did not have enough manpower to cater to the huge demand.

In a Government Girls Primary School in Kanakapura town (Bangalore Rural), the school building where polling officials were staying since Wednesday night neither had toilets nor water supply. About 20 officials, who were on polling duty in this building, went to a distant polling booth to ease themselves on Thursday morning. Several Bangaloreans, who got a holiday to exercise their franchise, decided to make good of it by going on a picnic to nearby areas.

Nearly two thousand voters in Marutinagar (Sonnenahalli) in Yeshwanthpur Assembly constituency, part of Bangalore North Lok Sabha constituency, voted in “air-conditioned” polling booths on Thursday.

Cool air triggered by the Wednesday’s showers circulated inside the three polling booths in this village situated off Kengeri Satellite Town, as the booths were set up in tin sheds. Raghavendra, a first-time voter, said people used to vote in booths housed inside an anganwadi building earlier.However, the building was pulled down to give way for a double road being constructed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) at Visvesvaraya Layout passing through this village. As a result, the administration put up three temporary sheds made of zinc sheets and shamianas. For an outsider, it looked like a festive or marriage occasion.

While some officials spent the night inside these sheds, a few were lucky as alternative arrangements were made nearby, said a villager.

Namibian delegation

Polling in Bangalore became a laboratory for Namibians, as they came to understand the functioning of the electronic voting machines (EVMs). Namibia that is trying to integrate EVMs in its polling process has sent a delegation that visited about 20 polling stations in the city to observe the polling process.

“We were told that the Namibian Government was interested to understand our polling process and see how the electronic voting machines were being used,” B.V. Kulkarni, the Joint Chief Electoral Officer, said.

Centenarian votes

Puttamaraiah (108), a native of Madagondanahalli of Magadi taluk, was a proud man. “I have never missed casting my vote. God gave me the strength to vote this time too and I am thankful to him for that,” he said outside booth number 18 at Cauveripura, where he exercised his franchise.

An agriculturist, Mr. Puttamaraiah moved to Bangalore 45 years ago from Magadi. .

A BJP worker in Umarbagh Layout in Padmanabhnagar was in a frenzy trying to get as many voters to the booth as possible early in the day. “If it rains like yesterday, no one will come out and vote,” he said. But the day remained bright and sunny till the close of polling.BJP workers and polling agents stood out near every polling booth in Bangalore South. All of them were clad in bright orange T-shirts which looked brand new. In some places, they were being supplied right on spot.

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