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Kabul mix-up, cries ink firm

Bangalore, Oct. 11: Inexperienced Afghan polling officials could have bungled by mixing up indelible-ink finger markers with ballot markers, officials of the company that exported the markers said today.

The state-owned Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd (MPVL) ' which exported 50,000 indelible ink markers to Afghanistan ' has been the sole supplier of the ink for polls in India since 1962. During elections to the Lok Sabha and Assembly in April-May, it supplied 1.8 million bottles to the Election Commission.

In recent years, it exported ink markers ahead of elections in Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

'The manufacturing formula of the indelible ink is closely guarded to maintain the sanctity of elections in the world's largest democracy. We have an agreement with the EC to maintain its secrecy. The National Physical Laboratory in Delhi certifies its quality,' company officials said.

In the last four decades, there have been no complaints about the quality of ink, officials said.

'This is a clear case of inexperienced officials using ballot markers instead of the markers with indelible ink. We have only supplied markers with indelible ink and not those required to mark ballot papers. Though both look alike, our markers have stickers 'indelible ink',' MPVL marketing manager Harakumar said.

He said the officials were possibly not trained ahead of polls. 'In our country, officials posted on election duty are trained on how to use these markers during polling. We have not got any complaints either from Afghanistan or even in Karnataka.'

On Sunday, children who went to medical centres in Karnataka for polio immunisation were marked on their fingers with the same indelible ink purchased by the health and family welfare department.

Harakumar said the Election Commission had already picked up the indelible ink markers for the October 13 Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

MPVL was founded in 1937 by the former ruler of Mysore, late Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. After independence, it was taken over by the government. Since 1962, the company became the sole manufacturer and supplier of indelible ink for all parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections.

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