I came down from Bangalore to Chennai to cast my vote. But ended up in the midst of the drama I didn’t ask for. I went to the booth post lunch. My name was on the list. I went in. In the last list, just before I had to go in to vote, my name had been marked with a little handwritten x. My name was on another handwritten sheet, called the ASD list – Absentee, Shifted and Deceased – which according to the rules is just a reference list and the presiding officer can allow me to vote. But the party agents at the booth disagreed. They were threatening the presiding officer and all of the people on the shared list. They said some half dozen people on that list weren’t allowed to vote in the morning. So how could I vote? I told them you weren’t aware of the rules before, now you are. Because an injustice happened with someone else as they weren’t aware of the rules, why should you continue to perpetuate it after knowing what’s right?
The election officials agreed that I could vote.
But the agents were overruling the decision of the presiding officer, the RO, and all other seniors officers who visited the booth. Large crowds of people kept entering the booth to keep those on the ASD list from voting. They threatened violence. The police came. ECI officers came. And finally, at 6 pm one senior officer arrived and threw everyone out. She showed the rule book and said no matter what, I would vote today because as per rules I am allowed to.
The agents continued to threaten violence. But suddenly everyone went quiet after a call came to one of them. And they let me and four others vote. A lot happened in the background which I can’t and don’t want to write about. But I saw first hand how some people can stop ECI officers, police and the layperson to not vote. This was a sheer lack of awareness.
And top all the drama, as a postscript to the events, this morning the famous indelible ink started smudging and vanishing from the finger. This is something that’s not supposed to happen.
But for me, the story ends when I voted and got home safely.
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