Women voters at a polling booth in Uthkramith Madhya Vidyalaya in Ghatshila on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Ghatshila, April 17: Women voters led the way in Ghatshila today to uphold democracy in a land where outlawed rebel outfits still try and call the shots.
They might not have heard of “Power of 49” — a corporate campaign launched by the Tatas to encourage women to vote — but today, Ghatshila’s women braved the heat and defied fears to cast their adult franchise.
Booth No. 3 at Baguria Madhya Vidyalaya, Baguria village, and booth No. 1 at Uthkramith Madhya Vidyalaya, Narsinghpur, both in Ghatshila subdivision saw women voters outnumbering the men.
The school building and campus of Baguria Madhya Vidyalaya, barely 20m from Jorpa Sporting Club grounds where then Jamshedpur MP and popular JMM leader Sunil Mahto was murdered by Maoists in March 2007, saw 74 per cent voting.
That is a solid 9 per cent higher than its entire constituency, Jamshedpur, which saw 65 per cent voter turnout.
The booth had witnessed 91 percent poll in 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 70 per cent in the 2011 bypoll.
Interestingly today, Baguria’s women comprised 60 per cent of all the voters. Men were reduced to a minority.
“Vote dibar jone asechi. Aage oder loker bhoi thakhto. Ekhen nayi. (I have come to vote. Earlier we used to live with Maoist fears. Now we don’t,” Palki Tuddu (45) said, adding she voted in 2009 and 2011.
Gori Tuddu (25), a young homemaker of Baguria, rued about lack of development in their village but still felt the need to vote.
“Amader grame kichu vikas nahin. Kintu Indira Awas ache aur NREGA-r jonne chakri paiche. Bhalo neta asle vikas hobe (In our village, there is no development, but we have Indira Awas houses and jobs under MGNREGS. If good leaders come we will have development),” Gori, whose husband Sonaram works in an MGNREGS project, said.
The scene was similar in Uthkramith Madhya Vidyalaya at Narsinghpur which had large turnout of voters despite the fact that one hour of polling — between 7am and 8am — was partially hit due to an unclaimed bag scare.
Sukhodi Singh (30), wife of Subodh Singh a resident of Dumkakocha, said: “Aamra aase chilam, hamader dhukte nai dilo, kintu ek ghanta pore amra jaye kori vote dilam (We had come sharp at 7am but were not allowed to enter by the police. After an hour we were allowed to vote).”
The bag, seized by the Ghatshila police bomb disposal squad, was finally found to be containing cottonwool.
Still, booth No. 1 at Uthkramith Madhya Vidyalaya Narsinghpur saw some brisk polling. By 4pm, it ended its score with 74 per cent polling, 60 per cent of voters being women again.
Subdivisional police officer, Ghatshila, Arif Ekram said they sent the bomb disposal squad after reports of an abandoned bag.
“We did not want to take any chances. We asked the electorate to wait for some time. But to our relief, the bomb disposal squad later found the bag to be containing cottonwool. Thankfully, all went well and polling was not affected,” said Ekram.
The Power of 49, an awareness campaign launched by Tata Group, aimed at highlighting the fact that women form as much as 49 per cent of voters. If they vote, they can wield great power and make or break the government, it said.