Friday 20 September 2019

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Politics | Assembly '99

EVMs thrill villagers, polling peaceful

 

The highlight of the polling was the electronic voting machine even in the remotest area of the state as Goa had a trouble-free state Assembly elections today in a bright sunny weather but clouded a bit by the cricket match since afternoon, affecting the turnout.

Though final official figures had not come in hand till the report went in, the election officials predicted above 70 per cent turnout, most of which was in rural areas compared to the cities and towns. The counting of votes would be taken up on Sunday.

For the presiding officers at the polling stations, it was a real tension-free day while for the voters, it was an interesting "finger-game", exercising their franchise by simply pushing the button. More than political predictions, the magic of the EVM was a talk of town and even countryside.

The more the voter is uneducated, the more he liked the method of electronic voting. "This is much better than the complication of putting a stamp in a right place and folding it without fault", said overenthusiastic 65-year handicapped Vithu Naik. He was happy that his vote just cannot go waste.

But a few villagers did have a doubt, like a freedom fighter from Poriem, one of the remotest village in the Goan hinterland. He seemed little confused even after hearing the bip because he could not verify whether his vote had gone to the right person.

Official peons at the polling stations were seen very active, explaining the uneducated aged villagers how the machine functions, though 90 per cent of the population was finding it thrilling as they actually experienced what they had read or watched on the television earlier.

Prakash Velip, the four-time MLA and the candidate once again of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party from one of the remotest OBC constituencies, was happy that his efforts explaining his uneducated voters about the machine had borne fruits.

Polling officers also found the whole exercise much faster and relaxing due to paper-free voting. Incidentally, machines had to be changed only in three places, one among them not because it actually failed but the polling officer could not understand its mechanism properly, claimed R P Pal, the joint electoral officer.

Some shrewd politicians however tried to take full advantage of the electronic equipment to frighten people. A rumour was spread in some places that the voter would get a shock if they press any other button except the one in front of a particular symbol.

In one or two constituencies, workers of the candidate whose name was first on the machine, tried to confuse the voters telling them that they have to first push the first button to start the machine, only after which actual voting could be done.

The polling otherwise was quite peaceful, without any major untoward incident being reported, except three cases of impersonation and one incident of former Congress minister’s supporters causing head injury to ex-sarpanch of a rival group in North Goa.

Interesting among all is a complaint filed by former chief minister Pratapsing Rane against the brother of his opponent and retired police officer Santoba Desai, who has also filed a counter-complaint against Rane’s son Vishwajeet of alleged threatening and intimidation.

Similarly, the presiding officers had to change polling agents of another former Congress minister and his BJP rival as they picked up a fight inside the booth in Taleigao constituency, part of Panaji city.

Also included five MGP supporters of former opposition leader Dr Kashinath Jalmi from Priol, among total 135 arrested in last two days, who were arrested early morning roaming with knives and swords. "Otherwise it was free of any major incident, except minor hiccups", said R S Sahaye, the state DGP.






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