A nonagenarian voter being carried to a booth by his grandson in Karso village of Barhi, Hazaribagh, on Monday. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Barhi (Hazaribagh), Dec. 6: They had been eagerly waiting for this day. But at the end of round two of panchayat polls, several of them went back home disappointed and disgruntled.
It was a missed opportunity for many women who exercised their franchise at booth No. 232 in Barhi’s Dorwa Khas village — about 50km from Hazaribagh — today, as they ended up voting either the wrong candidate or more than one nominee for a particular post.
They said they got confused on receiving four ballot papers of four colours — white for ward members, pink for mukhiya, green for panchayat samiti member and yellow for zilla parishad member. Further, the symbols of some candidates contesting for different posts were also common, they claimed.
The booth had 445 voters on its electoral list, of which 136 were women.
Rani Tirkey, one of the voters, admitted she could not understand what was going on and as a result, voted for the wrong person.
Mahant Balakpuri, a native of Sawai Madhavpur in Rajasthan who is now settled in Chouparan of Hazaribagh, blamed the administration and the state election commission for the confusion.
“Panchayat polls are taking place after three decades. Hence, the villagers are not well aware of the voting procedure. Many women voters committed errors at booth No. 232, as they didn’t know that they would get four ballot papers of different colours. The administration should have taught them how to cast votes and fold the paper before dropping it into the box,” he said.
Dasrath Oraon, an advocate of Jharkhand High Court, agreed that women were more confused. “We asked the women voters to take time and cast their votes properly as they were clueless about the ballot system,” he added.
Nineteen-year-old newly married Basanti Kujur, a first-time voter, got nervous on hearing that four ballot papers were being provided. However, she emerged confident after casting her vote.
“Thank god, I got to know before entering the booth that there would be four ballot papers. I took about six to eight minutes to cast my vote and I think, I have not made any mistake,” she smiled.
A polling officer at the booth admitted there was a lot of confusion and that the votes of many women would go waste. “But what can we do? We are helpless,” he added.