Banashankari bypoll peaceful

Banashankari bypoll peaceful

Voters queue up at a booth on Sunday. DH Photo

Amid rumours of election fixing, calls from mosques every 15 minutes for people to cast their votes, and tight police security, the Banashankari Temple Ward byelections passed off peacefully on Sunday.

According to the State Election Commission, only 53.97 per cent of voters turned out to cast the ballot.

Most shops downed their shutters and groups of supporters of various political parties set up booths early in the morning. For the first time in the history of the BBMP/BMP elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday entered the “bastion” of Mohammad Ali, alias Diwan Ali, a JD(S) corporator who was hacked to death by a seven-member gang six months ago.

Over 300 BJP workers put out tables in the bylanes of Yarabnagar to ‘help’ voters with their name and polling booth outside the station. Through the day, mosques in the area appealed to people to cast their votes before the closing time, the exhortation adhered to by not many people.

Rumours about missing voters were rife for sometime with Congress leader Syed Ghouse claiming that as many as 4,000 names were not found in the voters’ list. Several mismatch of names, vis-a-vis their photographs in the voters list, was also reported.

A minor scuffle was reported between the workers of three major political parties in Yarabnagar when an overspeeding vehicle allegedly tried to “run over” a BJP worker near the polling station. The situation was defused with the interference of the police manning the station. Allegations by Congress leader Gurappa Naidu about Home Minister R Ashoka — under whose constituency the Banashankari Temple Ward falls — misusing police machinery fell on deaf ears as the police asked him to leave the hypersensitive Yarabnagar.

In Yarabnagar, official figures put the voter turnout at the Government Urdu Primary Modern School polling station at 55 percent. The school, located 50 yards from where Diwan Ali was shot dead by a rival gang, saw at least 250 policemen guarding the booth to avoid any trouble.

While the police presence did see a peaceful polling on Sunday, leaders from the Opposition parties claimed that it was deterring citizens from coming to cast their vote. However, DCP (South) Sonia Narang dismissed the allegations, saying: “The police personnel were needed under the circumstances. They are here to protect the people and were deployed, given the sensitive nature of the polling station.”

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