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Andhra Pradesh - Visakhapatnam Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Changing election colours

THE METHODOLOGY of exercising franchise has been steadily improving election after election.

As a schoolboy, this scribe had noticed that in the election held on the eve of Independence each party or contesting candidate was given a colour for identification. There used to be different ballot boxes for parties and each was coloured this way: Congress - yellow (Telugu Desam Party people should not get annoyed; this was in 1946), Communist Party of India - red, Muslim League - green, etc.

In the first general election of 1952, the Election Commission gave each recognised party a specific symbol, with a set of free symbols for Independents. Under this system, the Congress symbol was `yoked bullocks' which has since changed to `cow-and-calf' and `hand'. The CPI was given `sickle and corn', the Socialist Party `tree' and so on.

Until the 1962 election there used to be a separate box for each candidate in every booth. Realising that the result could be guessed by the number of vote-filled boxes on each candidate's account, the Commission changed the pattern to a single big box in each booth where voters were asked to deposit their ballots, which had displayed names of candidates and their symbols.

In 1962, the system of stamping on the symbol was introduced, and later on, the mixing of all votes polled by all candidates in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections from all booths in a segment was innovated to prevent people knowing how the voters attached to a particular booth exercised their franchise.

Counting of votes polled used to be a laborious and hectic affair until the Commission decided to go in for Electronic Voting Machines. The EVM has revolutionised the ballot and quickened the counting process.

* * *

THE CONGRESS faces a major challenge. After dismissing the joint rally of the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, and the Chief Minister,

N. Chandrababu Naidu, here as a `flop show, it now has the task of making its president, Sonia Gandhi's, public meeting on Thursday a `resounding success' in what has turned to be a battle of show of strength.

Local Congress leaders got into a huddle on Monday and resolved to not to leave any stone unturned in having Ms. Gandhi's rally-- at the very place Mr. Vaypayee and Mr .Naidu shared the podium recently a smashing success, not only to unsettle the Opposition, but revitalise its own rank and file.

The Congress candidate for Vizag Lok Sabha seat, N. Janardhana Reddy, who is credited with making Ms. Gandhi's election meeting at Vijayawada a `hit', is looked up to by the local party leadership for repeating the `feat' here.

* * *

COME ELECTIONS, one won't find only trading activity at shandies in the agency areas but they are also used as a platform by the contestants and political parties to woo the electorate.

As covering 3,600 tiny and big hamlets spread over the agency area of 6,400 square kilometres--accounting for 60 per cent of total area in the district--is a Herculean task, the candidates pitch tents at the shandies and try to drive home their point.

With the countdown for April 20 elections already begun, the Minister for Tribal Welfare, M. Manikumari, who is contesting on the Telugu Desam ticket for the Paderu Assembly seat, and her rivals, Lake Raja Rao (Bahujan Samaj Party) and M. Balaraju (Congress), were seen addressing the shoppers at the Gottulaputtu shandy recently, albeit separately.

* * *

THE LOCAL Telugu Desam Party leaders, all loyalists to their Lok Sabha candidate, M.V.V.S. Murthi, have made it a point to criticise as well as make a fervent appeal to the TDP urban district president, Bharanikana Rama Rao, who has decided to thrown his hat in the ring as a rebel.

They claim that the party's candidates to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha were chosen on the basis of several survey reports, particularly after assessing the winnability.

But Mr. Rama Rao's case is different and he argues that he entered fray not only because the TDP chose to ignore his claim but also because he was hurt by the comment by a senior leader that he did not command any following.

The TDP leaders are rationalising the actions of the high command to give the Visakhapatnam-II ticket to a former rebel, Palla Simhachalam, who quit the party after he was denied re-nomination in the last Assembly elections, and in the case of Pendurthy, where the widow of a bitter critic of TDP,

Perhaps, Mr. Rama Rao might have turned rebel in the hope that he too would be fielded as TDP candidate in the next election like in the case of Mr. Simhachalam, or that the Congress might give him the ticket at the last minute.

and B. Prabhakara Sarma

By R. Sampath, Shakeel M. Rasheed, Santosh Patnaik and B. Prabhakara Sarma

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