Usha Devi (56) and her daughter-in-law Sabita Devi (32) were in for a surprise at Jicho Bishanpur Middle School near Bhagalpur on Thursday morning.
Like many of their fellow residents, the duo were quite confused after witnessing the school building decked up like a wedding venue.
“Please come, this is booth No. 9 — one of the few model booths set up across the country by the Election Commission of India (ECI) this year for the first time,” Ramabatar Singh, booth level officer (BLO), was seen telling the voters.
Bhagalpur district magistrate-cum-returning officer B. Kartikey said the Lok Sabha constituency has 17 model booths as per the ECI instruction.
“We had to work hard for a facelift to the booths. I found the voters in such model booths more excited than in other places,” he added.
A model booth at a middle school in a nondescript village of Jicho Bishanpur, around 10km from Bhagalpur town, amazed voters and even the schoolteachers.
Dozens of girl students of the school in their uniform were busy welcoming the voters with roses and smile while their teachers were busy distributing biscuits and chocolates to the children who accompanied their mothers to the booth.
Even the voters were greeted with smile by the polling personnel. Till 12 noon, 45 per cent voting was recorded in the booth.
Falling under Goradih block and under 155 Kahalgaon Assembly segment, 1,554 voters at Jicho Bishanpur were simply excited at the unheard-of treatments inside the booth.
“During the last election, some of us were manhandled by the police inside the booth but on Thursday morning, the scenario changed completely. The security personnel with a smile welcomed us, we were offered drinking water and tea,” said Bishundeo Singh, a senior citizen of the village, where basic facilities like electricity, drinking water and roads are still a distant dream.
Rajshila, a doctor deputed with a dozen medical staff at the booth, said the basic concept of her team was to help voters in case of emergency. “It is extremely hot day today and any voter can fall ill. So we have arranged all stuff to counter such situation,” she said, adding that each of the voters was provided packaged drinking water along with ORS.
Even a model booth in the heart of Bhagalpur town was a pleasant surprise for voters. “For the first time, I’ve found perfect arrangement for voting at my booth. In the scorching heat, if you get a glass of cold water or a chair under the tents, it will be a great achievement for the ECI,” said Alice Chako, a senior schoolteacher who came to cast her vote at booth No. 76 at Bhagalpur Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The BMC has two polling booths on its premises — booth No. 76 and 77 with 1,120 and 1,062 voters, respectively.