Polling over, rivals turn pals at counting centres

Bitter rivalry that prevailed among cadres of different political parties has given way to camaraderie as functionaries huddle together on the campus of counting centre and watch the EVMs that are placed in strong rooms.
Polling over, rivals turn pals at counting centres

COIMBATORE : With polling over, the bitter rivalry that prevailed among cadres of different political parties has given way to camaraderie as functionaries huddle together on the campus of counting centre and watch the EVMs that are placed in strong rooms.

With a gap of 45 days between polling on April 19 and counting of votes on June 4, the cadres have nothing else to do that chat as they watch the CCTV feed that is displayed on multiple screens in the Government College of Technology, where EVMs from Coimbatore constituency are placed.

Apart from police personnel, it is the duty of agents of all candidates to monitor the EVMs .A space has been earmarked for agents to monitor CCTV footage which is recorded round-the-clock till the counting takes place.

As per the Election Commission norms, apart from the contesting candidate, his chief agent and two agents are allowed inside the premises to observe the security measures. Candidates of major parties will visit sometime on a day or whenever it is required. But most of the time, the chief agent and the other agents stay in the premises and engage in surveillance to prevent any violation.

Cutting across party lines, seven agents from candidates were sitting in a  room and watching a screen on which CCTV footage was live streamed on Monday morning.

D Gunasekaran (41), an agent of DMK candidate, and speaker of the party’s Kavundampalayam unit, said, “This is the fourth time I am working as agent. Earlier, I worked in 2011, 2016, and 2019. The party has selected me for the work. For my livelihood, I carry out motor winding job. Normally, we split the work into two sessions. From 7 am to 7 pm, I stay here. Another agent will stay from 7 pm to 7 am. If any situation arises in professional work that I have to attend, we will coordinate and relieve each other.”

He said he did opt for the work expecting any remuneration from the party. “While leaving my house, I complete breakfast mostly. For lunch, tea and snacks, the party will provide for the expenses. Apart from the political parties we belong to, all of us sit together, chat and share tea, snacks and food, etc. We maintain a cordial relationship. Someone from us will go to buy food, tea and share it. We do not hesitate to do it because the duty is the same for monitoring the EVMs,” he said.

A Hariharan (25), AIADMK’s IT wing ward secretary from Sowripalayam, who worked as logistics manager in a private firm, said this is the first time he is working as agent. “I resigned from my job to work for the party during elections. The party will bear the expenses incurred here, I did not come expecting any remuneration and I will accept whatever the party pays me.  After June 4, I will go back to my routine work for my livelihood.

P Samikannan, one of the three BJP agents, said he volunteered for the work. Apart from the major political parties, agents from other parties and independent candidates were not found in the place. However, using the independent candidates’ pass, agents from major political parties have come as agents.

Sources said that giving the agent pass for political parties, independent candidates may get up to Rs 50,000 unofficially. For this reason, some independent candidates earn money through the contest in the election.

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