Confusion and tension gripped many first-time voters of the Digha Assembly constituency over distribution of Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) on Thursday.
Very few booth-level officers (BLOs) were present at the polling stations to distribute the EPIC for which first-time voters had registered during the camps held on March 9 and 11.
According to sources, around 30,000 voters in the Digha Assembly segment had registered for enrolment in the electoral list during the special camps.
Many such electors went to their respective booth on Thursday expecting the delivery of their EPICs. However, most of them fumed over the absence of the BLOs.
“My son and daughter had applied for registration in the electoral list during the special camp held on March 9. Later, I read in the newspaper that new EPICs would be distributed at the same booths in the Digha area on Thursday and Friday. However, I could find only one BLO at the polling station at West Point Public School and the rest four were absent. Consequently, we had to return empty handed,” said K.N. Tripathi, resident of Ram Nagari Colony Sector-2.
Several other polling stations like the Magistrate Colony Cooperative Society building and Sharons Academy remained closed as none of the BLOs arrived at the venue.
“I had applied for correction in my EPIC at Magistrate Colony Cooperative Society during the registration camp held here on March 9. Few people in my neighbourhood told me that new EPICs would be distributed in this area on Thursday and thus I went to the booth. However, I could not find anyone when I went there,” said P.K. Choudhary, resident of Akashwani Marg.
Patna district magistrate-cum-returning officer N. Saravana Kumar, however, claimed that there was no official announcement for distribution of the EPIC on the two days.
“I have not made any announcement regarding any drive for distribution of the EPIC through any special drive. However, I would like to add here that it is an ongoing process and electors would continue to receive EPIC till at least a week ahead of the polling date in the respective constituency,” said Saravana.
As per the final role published on January 1, there are 4,83,515 voters in the Digha constituency, including 2,55,718 male and 2,27,797 female voters.
The polling in Digha and other five Assembly segments in Patna Sahib parliamentary constituency and six Assembly segments falling in Pataliputra parliamentary constituency would be held on April 17.
Residents can check their names in the voter list by visiting the website of chief electoral officer, Bihar — www.ceobihar.nic.in.
Bank account diktat
The Election Commission on Thursday made it clear that candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections would have to open separate bank accounts in their names with zero balance to maintain records of poll expenditure.
The bank accounts would be operated either by the candidate or his/her polling agent. The candidates have been directed to open the bank accounts at least a day before filing the nomination papers. All transactions above Rs 20,000 would be done through crossed-check account payee only.
An official of the state electoral office in Patna said a drive has been launched to check manufacture and sale of illicit liquor. On Thursday, 5,000 litres of liquor were seized and 615 people were arrested. Rs 14 lakh cash was also seized.