27. A Scene of a Polling Station
Besides, there are elections for the state assemblies and municipal bodies. In all cases, the election scene at polling both is almost the same, though there is much more hustle and bustle for the Lok Sabha elections.
A polling booth presents a very busy scene. There is hustle and excitement. At a little distance from the polling booth, there are tents of the contestant parties with names and election signs of the candidates written on colorful banners. Although canvassing on the day of polling is prohibited by law, yet it continues in low whispers.
The chief official at the polling booth is the Presiding Officer. It is his duty to super¬vise the overall arrangements and to ensure that the polling is held smoothly and fairly.
One or more police constables are there to help him in maintaining law and order inside and outside the booth. There are two or three polling officers to help the presiding officer (or Returning Officer) in conducting the polls. One or more agents of each contestant can¬didate also sit inside the booth to satisfy themselves about a fair poll. There are also supporters of each candidate who move to and fro outside the booth. They have lists of voters in their hands and continually count the number of voters who they think have voted in their favour. If a particular voter of theirs has not reached the polling booth till late in the afternoon, they may rush to his house and fetch him in their own transport, thus violating the Election Law.
However, the man who matters most on the polling day, at least ostensibly, is the voter. The candidates, their agents and supporters bow to him, exchange smiles and pleasantries with him. They regale him with refreshments -even, if he so feels inclined, and in the case of voters in particular, brib¬ery maybe the rule. Hard drinks may also be offered to certain desirous voters. To cap it all, sometimes, there are fake voters sent by the candidates. In some cases, even “dead men” have been said to have cast their votes.
The polling begins in the morning and ends at 4.00 or 5.00 p.m. It is more brisk in the afternoon. Sometimes, even centenary ands and handicapped persons come to cast their votes. The people, no doubt, are enamored of this democratic process. Only the corrupt, power hungry political leaders play havoc with it. At the end the presiding officer gets the ballot boxes sealed which are then sent to a “central place” under police escort.
It is said that man is a cultured animal. But when there is a fight the wild animal in him gets the better of the cultured animal. The root cause of most of the quarrels in the world is impatience and lack of sympathy and forbearance.
Last Sunday, I went out of my house to fetch some eatables from the market. There is a vacant plot a few yards away from my house. The plot is very much situated be¬tween two built residential houses. In that plot, particularly on Sundays and holidays, children play games of all kinds. Hardly had I reached that plot when I heard a loud yell from the house on one side of the plot. Then I found a little boy running fast towards a house a few yards away from the plot.
Soon, several ladies of the street came out of their houses. There were also many children in this imbroglio. Mainly there were two ladies who rushed at each other as if to strangulate each other. Other ladies tried to catch hold of them, but made occasional loud confusing noises. A pandemonium prevailed there. Nothing could be properly heard or understood.
At last, I gathered, picking from here and there that the little boy who had run away from the scene, had, while playing thrown his ball in the house adjoining the vacant plot. The ball had hit the lady of the house on the head. It was she who had given out the shriek. She had rushed out to the mother of the boy and it is how the quarrel started.
Besides the ladies, a number of men gathered there to pacify the quarrelling la¬dies, but in vain. The quarrel took an ugly turn when the son of the lady who had been hit with the ball came and gave a sound thrashing to the boy who had thrown the ball. He beat him black and blue. The little boy became unconscious and had to be hospitalized. Thank God, his life was saved with the timely medical aid. The lady whose boy had beaten the little boy begged pardon of the little boy’s mother. It was decided by the people that a park some distance away should be thrown open to the children where they could play.