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National - Elections 2004 Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

POLL-POURRI

Threat to voters

The introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) has made life simpler for polling officers but it has left weaker sections vulnerable to threats of post-poll intimidation. During the good old days of paper ballot voting, the Election Commission had made mixing of ballots from various polling booths mandatory so that the polling pattern of any one polling booth remained unknown. But this is not the case with EVMs and politicians are leaving their audience in no doubt that they will get to know the voting pattern of each booth. The Haryana Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala, underscored this point at several election meetings. "My rivals are threatening you that they will get to know the voting pattern. But let me tell you that they won't be able to do anything because I, Om Prakash Chautala, will be the Chief Minister for the next 11 months." Analysts are wondering whether that is an indirect way of telling voters that they better vote for his party for he will continue to be in power even if his party loses ground in the Lok Sabha elections.

Goddess Indira

In some of the interior villages of Udaipur, Indira Gandhi is still a factor, especially among the Scheduled Castes and the backward classes. Many of them don't know the name of the present Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, or even the Congress candidate from the constituency, Girija Vyas. But they remember "Indira as a goddess" and her slogan "garibi hatao." They do not care who the Congress candidate is or whether anybody is working for their welfare. For them, going along with the Congress means a grateful tribute to Indira Gandhi. "Had she been there, it would have been Ram-Rajya for the poor," they believe.

Repeat of 1977?

Will the Congress be able to repeat its 1977 performance? The veteran Congress leader, K. Karunakaran, has no doubts about it. "Literate Kerala will ensure a victory for the Congress. I assure you that there would be 20 MPs to raise their hands in Parliament in support of Soniaji. In 1977, all the 20 coalition MPs were elected. I am sure 1977 will be repeated this time too," Mr Karunakaran said in the presence of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. The Thiruvananthapuram DCC president, Peethambara Kurup, asserted that Sonia was Priyadarshini II. And if he made the comment to please his party president, he sure got a reward for that. A pat on his back by Ms. Gandhi.

— Sandeep Dikshit, Gargi Parsai, Girish Menon

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