India’s democracy reaches out to lone voter in remote forest (Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Banej(Gujarat)/New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) A temple priest, the only voter registered at a polling station in the world famous Gir lion sanctuary in Gujarat, said he was proud of Indian democracy as he exercised his franchise Thursday.
Shri Guru Bharatdasji Darshandasji Maharaj voted at 10.30 a.m. at the makeshift polling booth at Banej, about 20 kms from Sasan in Junagadh district, and about 300 km from Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat.

Two polling officers and two policemen travelled there for the lone voter whose voter identity card was given out as G823559975.

Bharatdasji said: “I am proud of a nation which sends polling officers miles away to collect just one vote”.

The priest lives in the Banej Tirthdham, a pilgrimage spot inside the Gir sanctuary, the home to Asiatic lions, and looks after an ancient Shiva temple there. Banej comes under the Una assembly segment of the Junagadh parliamentary constituency.

In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner R. Balakrishan told reporters: “Even one vote is important in a democratic election as often close contests are decided by just one vote.”

He said there were constituencies in the remote northeast and other far-flung corners of this vast country with an electorate of 714 million people that had only two or three voters.

Thursday was the third phase of a staggered five-phase balloting process that ends May 13. Results are out May 16.

– Indo-Asian News Service


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