Peaceful polling in ‘Omkara’ territory (Poll Prattle)

May 13th, 2009 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) For those living in the badlands of western Uttar Pradesh, it was a big surprise when the polls went off peacefully Wednesday, contrary to the volatile image of the region that was the backdrop for the film “Omkara”.
“It is one of the most peaceful Lok Sabha elections that we have witnessed. We were all very surprised,” said Mohammed Umar, a local businessman, who lives in Rampur. There were long lines of people lining up to vote in the constituency.

Violence had been feared in Rampur, which has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Sitting Samajwadi Party leader Jaya Prada is pitted against Noor Bano of the Congress and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We were fearing trouble,” he said but pointed out that even in Muzaffarnagar, known for its high crime rate, elections had been smooth.

Many others from the region agreed it is one of the most peaceful Lok Sabha elections that they had witnessed.

The socio-political nature of the region, known to be volatile and steeped in caste politics, was beautifully captured by Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj in his blockbuster movie “Omkara”.

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Voters express anger, use 49-0 to not vote

How do people angry with government decisions register their protest? Not by holding sit-ins but by simply using section 49-0 of election rules. And that’s what some voters did in Tamil Nadu Wednesday.

Over 100 people “affected” by land acquisition for the expansion of the Chennai airport recorded their abstention from voting.

“Some 100 of us signed form 17-A under section 49-O to express our anger against our land being forcibly acquired for the airport expansion declaring our abstention from voting,” S. Karthikeyan, spokesperson for the umbrella organisation of the United Forum for People’s Survival.

Some were a bit apprehensive about using it as it would reveal the voter’s intention and violate the concept of the “secret ballot”. One voter was also removed by police after he vociferously complained about the non-availability of form 17-A.

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When media added to voters’ woes

Several private TV channels said ration cards would be accepted as identity cards for voters at polling booths. But that wasn’t the case and the top poll official in Tamil Nadu took the media to task for it.

State chief electoral officer Naresh Gupta expressed anger at such “misinformation” that had added to voters’ woes.

“It is highly irregular and improper on the part of TV channels to misinform the public. Only documents with clear photographic evidence of voters can be accepted as proof,” Gupta said.

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Vote counting: Gangtok makes it live and big

For the first time, residents of Sikkim capital Gangtok will watch a live telecast of poll results in the state May 16. That’s the day when counting will take place at TNA auditorium.

The office of the chief electoral officer has tied up with local TV providers, Nayuma Cable, for an ambitious onscreen and live display of the counting process at Titanic Park here at MG Marg.

A big screen will be installed at Titanic Park. A similar live telecast of the counting process is also planned at the chief electoral office. Now everyone is hoping the weather gods will smile and there will be no rain during the telecast.

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