A terminally-ill woman, who has never missed a chance to vote, will not be able to exercise her franchise this time. “Elections are in my blood,” 83-year-old Harriet Pais said matter-of-factly when Express met her.
Thursday’s election is a huge disappointment as she can’t go out and vote.
“And I will not be around when the next polls are announced,” she says, with no tinge of regret.
Pais, diagnosed with renal failure, is spending her last days at Ave Maria Palliative Care, an unit of Centre for Development Studies and Education (CDSE), at Mangala Nagara in Vamanjoor here.
While the elderly and the infirm are physically carried to polling booths, voters with varied terminal diseases, spending their days in hospitals and old-age homes, have no help.
On Mangalore Akashvani, during a phone-in-programme with SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education And Electoral Participation) nodal officer Tulasi Maddineni, a woman listener sought to know if any special provisions were being made to help thousands of bedridden patients in 35 super-speciality hospitals in Mangalore. Maddineni admitted that no special voting facilities were being provided to “brain-active” but bedridden patients in hospitals and old-age homes in the state. Her views were echoed by Chief Electoral Officer Anil Jha.
“They will have to vote at the polling booths where their names are listed,” Tulasi Maddineni said. They can’t use postal ballot either, she replied when the listener persisted. When asked about the arrangements being made for patients, Anil Jha said that the EC has not made any arrangements to bring people to the booths. However, assistance will be provided on a priority basis to terminally-ill patients, physically challenged and pregnant women. “Those who are too old or visually challenged may also bring a family member, above the age of 18,” Jha said.
CDSE director Dr Lavina Noronha said that nurses from states like Jharkhand, working at Maria Palliative Care and other tertiary health care centres, are also in no position to vote. As this correspondent ended the interview, Pais’ eyes lit up. “With this article, will I get to vote?” she asked enthusiastically.
‘My Indira Gandhi’
Pais was the only woman working in Manipal Industries in the early 1960s. Dr T M A Pai, who built Manipal into a big hub, used to fondly refer to her as “my Indira Gandhi”.