The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sinha picks poll holes

Ranchi, April 24: External affairs minister and BJP candidate from Hazaribagh Yashwant Sinha today took on the Election Commission, finding faults in the way polls are held.

Sinha complained of largescale booth-capturing and bogus voting in Hazaribagh, which went to the polls on April 20.

At a news conference at the state party headquarters here, Sinha said the Election Commission would have to promote fresh thinking to find solutions to practical problems in conducting free and fair polls.

Sinha said there was a difference between peaceful and impartial polls, adding that there could be something called “silent booth-capturing.”

Claiming that many bonafide voters with photo-identity cards were seen searching for booths in Hazaribagh, Sinha said besides irregularities, several practical problems came to light in his constituency.

“Though full of flaws, the photo-identity card served no purpose when the voter was debarred from casting his franchise. Vehicles are not allowed to ply on the polling day, but booths of many voters were 5-7 km away from their homes. Many women had to return due to the heavy rush while many complained of bogus voting. Some preferred not to cast their votes due to the cumbersome process involved,” he said.

Sinha raised several objections, including why political parties had given serial numbers and booth numbers to voters and why couldn’t the poll panel allot the same. Why were elections held during summers, why were buildings used as polling booths and why were permanent polling booths not created with focus on the facilities of voters, Sinha asked.

He also demanded a simple a voting process and wanted to know why there were no special arrangements for women, who often have to return without voting due to heavy rush at polling booths.

“I am compiling the problems and will raise the issue with central leaders in Delhi. A report will be submitted to the CEC so that the shortcomings can be removed,” he said. This issue is not related to any party, all parties need to discuss the seriousness of the problems related to voting, he added.

“I personally feel that there should be permanent polling booths. Elections are a regular feature in a democratic set-up and instead of using any building as a polling booth, there should be permanent booths providing required facilities to voters. The polling booth could be used for other purposes when elections are not being held,” he said.

Sinha was confident that the BJP would win the remaining eight seats as people liked Atal Bihari Vajpayee as an individual and NDA as an institution.

“The BJP is in a fight in all the 14 seats. “We are in a position to win all the 14 seats. The next government in Delhi will alsobe of NDA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” he claimed.

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