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B’luru South: Cong alleges foul play by booth official

Confusion over an advice by a booth official on using the EVM led to chaos at a polling booth in Bommanahalli, Bangalore South constituency, with the Congress workers alleging efforts were being made by officials to channel the vote for BJP candidate.

By noon, a police KSRP van had to be stationed at booth 196 and 197 at the Presidency English School. However, police claimed it was sheer miscommunication that led to the problem. Here is how it all began.

Rangamma (name changed), a senior citizen, went in to cast her vote at polling booth 197 around noon. She was accompanied by her daughter to the booth. Rangamma told the polling officers inside that there was no beep on EVM nor did the light blink after she pressed the button. In reply, the polling officers remarked, “ondanna jooragi otti” in Kannada (press one button hard), police said.

The bone of contention here was the word “one” as it hinted at a particular candidate. Congress supporters at the spot expressed opposition as they believed that the polling officer was attempting to influence the voter to press the first button, to vote for BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya.

“She was a senior citizen. The polling staff inside were trying to take advantage of it and asked her to vote for BJP. Her daughter tried to intervene but it did not help. Later she came and complained to us and we had to protest. We were only asking for justice. This led to chaos,” said a Congress worker at the spot.

He also claimed that the BJP was involved in the foul play and that the election here was not impartial. Bommanahalli police said arguments prevailed between the BJP and Congress workers and as a measure for precaution, additional police were called in. “It was only a verbal dispute,” said the police.

When 25-year-old K Satish went to vote at the Round Table School in Bommanahalli, he found that a vote had already been cast in his name. Outraged, his mother, Kavita Kumar, bolstered by a local Dalit activist Shoba Murugesh, descended on the polling station and threatened to stop all voting, forcing police to intervene.

Satish was eventually allowed to cast his vote after he and his family filled out a “Challenge Vote” request. “We wonder how many other dubious votes have been cast in this manner,” Murugesh said. “This is how they are defeating Congress.”

Police grew agitated when the women escorted this reporter to the roundtable school, and until eventually armed police were summoned to escort the women out.

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