TAMIL NADU

Complaints of proxy voting, protests mar polls

BANGALORE Aug. 10. Complaints of improperly sealed ballot boxes and proxy voting were many and protests over names missing from the voters' list widespread at most of the 138 polling booths for the elections to the K.R. Puram City Municipal Council on Sunday.

A moderate polling of 45 per cent to 50 per cent was recorded till afternoon in all 35 wards.

It was found that several people were deprived of their right to vote owing to the discrepancies in the voters' list and the photo identity cards.

The Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner, D.S. Ashwath, and the State Election Commissioner, C. Chikanna, who inspected "sensitive" and "highly sensitive" polling booths in the morning, found that the ballot boxes were not sealed properly in at least 10 booths.

They reprimanded the officials on duty and had the ballot boxes resealed in their presence.

Polling was stopped for 10 minutes in booth no. 10 of ward no. 34 (ITI Township) till the ballot boxes were resealed.

In some booths, people were not allowed to exercise their franchise, as the photo identity cards did not bear their correct names.

For instance, K. Manjunath was not allowed to vote as his name was printed K. Manjappa on the card.

Mr. Ashwath and Mr. Chikanna also tried to find out if there were any discrepancies in the voters' list and if the officials were insisting on production of identity cards.

Though the officials claimed that there was no proxy voting, people were found complaining of it in booth no. 37 of Annasandrapalya (ward No. 22).

Mr. Chikanna told presspersons that the officials at the polling stations were insisting on production of identity cards.

Though it was widely publicised that voters should possess any one of the 19 documents listed by the Election Commission to prove their identity, several voters came without any of them.

Chaos prevailed at Vijinapura (ward no. 32) where the activist of the BJP and Janata Parivar complained that the police personnel on duty were campaigning for the Congress candidate.

Many burkha-clad women were seen waiting in queues in most of the booths in Islampura, a Muslim-dominated ward. Women constables were posted here to supervise polling.

In the wards of Annasandrapalya, Islampura, and Vibuthipura, election seems to have been based on personalities rather than parties.

The candidates' rapport with the voters seems to be a big factor. But the problems remained local: shortage of drinking water, and lack of underground drainage and roads.

Many voters complained of these problems.

Some BJP workers in Annasandrapalya alleged that their rivals had resorted to large-scale distribution of cash and food to the voters on Saturday night.

Vishwabharathi, long-time Congress activist and Mahila Sangha president, crossed over to the BJP when her party denied her ticket.

"I was promised the ticket. But they backtracked at the last moment. The sangha members then asked me to support the BJP,'' she told The Hindu.

The sangha, she claimed, had a membership of 10,000.