BENGALURU: To ensure that things go smoothly in polling booths on Saturday, the BBMP has instructed booth officials to constantly keep the top brass updated with abbreviated messages throughout the day.
Briefing reporters on Thursday, BBMP Commissioner Kumar Naik said, “Continuous movement at each and every polling booth will be tabbed through this mobile-based information system,” he said. He added that this was being tried out for the first time in the city’s local body polls.
Those manning the booths will be entrusted with sending messages to a particular number and all messages will be sent to a server that will display them on a portal that can be accessed only by top officials, Naik added.
It could be abbreviations for activities like ‘Mock polling done’, ‘polling started’ and so on, the Palike commissioner said.
On steps taken to ensure a high turnout, Naik spoke of the success of pamphlets distributed last week through schoolchildren to their families and getting attestations from eligible voters that they would exercise their franchise on Saturday.
“A total of 73,88,256 individuals out of the nearly one crore population have registered as voters and this is a big number.” From January to August alone, 3,37,230 new names have been added to the voter list, he said.
The total voting percentage during the previous BBMP polls was 44 and Naik is optimistic that it would go up this time.
Giving a break-up of the figures involved in the polling process, State Election Commissioner P N Srinivasachari said 1,120 candidates were in the fray for 197 wards (one candidate has emerged unanimous winner in a ward) which will head to the polls. Polling will take place in 6,759 booths with 32,176 officials taking part. This will include 7,981 presiding officers, an equal number of assistant presiding officers and 16,214 polling officers. There will also be seven IAS officers on special duty as observers, he added.
600 Vehicles Hired
To facilitate smooth conduct of polls, 600 private vehicles have been hired. “With 55.54 lakh vehicles, there is no shortage of vehicles in the city,” City Police Commissioner N S Megharikh said. He added jocularly, “Lots of people are eager to associate with us for the BBMP polls, but we are not willing to associate with them.”
To a query on cash or alcohol being offered for votes, Megharikh said there were no complaints so far. On whether a 20,000-strong force is sufficient to monitor over 73 lakh voters, he said the mobile alert system will notify them about problems instantly.
On candidates taking contributions from corporates to fund campaigns, Srinivasachari said as long as the companies satisfy I-Tax Act provisions, there is no problem. Candidates have to specify the amount, which should not cross `5 lakh, in their expenditure list.
Voting for no one? Fill up Form No. 27 in place of NOTA
State Election Commissioner P N Srinivasachari said voters who do not want to cast their vote for any particular candidate can fill up Form No. 27 which will be available in every booth. But first, they will have to prove their identity and register their names in the booth. On reports that the None of the Above (NOTA) option had been withdrawn for the local body polls, the SEC said this was not correct as this option had never existed in urban local body polls and was yet to be introduced in EVMs for local polls. The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act and the Karnataka Municipalities Act have to be amended so that the NOTA provision can be introduced for urban local polls, he said.
BBMP Work Has Suffered, says commissioner naik
BBMP Commissioner Kumar Naik has conceded that there is truth in the charge that the civic body’s services have suffered due to increased focus on the local body polls. Officials from the revenue and engineering wings were involved in preparing the electoral rolls, updating the voter list and carrying out repairs at polling stations. “The BBMP electoral exercise is a gigantic task. It has to be seen to be believed,” Naik said. Referring to a photograph published in a newspaper that one of BBMP’s offices was shut due to work in connection with polls, the commissioner said immediate action was taken and normal service restored.