An unusually calm counting day

No shouting, no screaming, no singing, no dancing. Counting centres were particularly quiet this time.

Votes for the Lok Sabha elections were counted at three centres in Bengaluru: St Joseph’s Indian High School (Bengaluru North), SSMRV College in Jayanagar (Bengaluru South) and Mount Carmel College (Bengaluru Central). Metrolife was there to catch all the action.

Clockwork efficiency here

Bengaluru NORTH

St Joseph’s Indian High School
Vittal Mallya Road

This centre was perhaps the most organised. There was enough space inside for vehicles and parking was regulated. This centre had two ambulances, mobile toilets and drinking water. Scanning machines were placed at all entrances people were frisked before the entered. There were no party workers standing outside: everyone was accommodated inside.


A P Singh (first from left) leads a
BSF team from West Bengal.

BSF jawans from Bengal

Twenty-one BSF personnel, each armed with a machine gun, flew down exclusively for election duty here. They were stationed at the gates of St Joseph’s Indian High School. A P Singh, sub-inspector and leader of the group, told Metrolife, “Our job is to ensure safe conduct of elections. We are stationed outside because danger mostly comes from outside. We also make sure there is no untoward incident.”

Reminiscent of ‘70s Bengaluru

Bengaluru SOUTH

SSMRV PU College, 4th T Block, Jayanagar

The atmosphere around the place was surprisingly calm. The road on which the college is located, 36th Cross, is always busy, but it was empty today, except for some parked police and emergency vehicles. This is the first time in many decades the streets here have been so quiet, a police officer said.

 

Tiger tows away vehicles

About 20 two-wheelers were taken by a traffic police vehicle as they were parked within 100 metres of the counting centre. “In 2014, after the general elections, and 2018, after the Assembly elections, the area was packed with people.

Teenage boys were vrooming around on their bikes. The scene is completely different this time,” said Lakshman, who lives nearby. Another resident missed all the hustle and bustle.

“There are police vehicles everywhere. Everything’s silent this time. We don’t even feel it is counting day,” says Suma, retired bank employee.

 

Parking worries, tense candidates 


Prakash Raj at a centre.

Bengaluru Central Mount Carmel College,
Vasanth Nagar

The scene outside the Mount Carmel counting centre was upbeat. Although all roads leading to the college were cordoned off, party workers had gathered in the bylanes and on the main road. Security was tight and no one was allowed to enter the street without being questioned. Supporters of the BJP, JD(S) and Congress had gathered at the counting centre and waited anxiously for announcements over the mic. Independent candidate Prakash Raj, stood around in a contemplative mood. BJP candidate P C Mohan waved to his supporters before entering the centre. Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad remained inside the counting centre all the time.

500 custom-made stoles

Vijay S and Manish, supporters of Mohan, were ready with custom-made stoles, sweets and flowers for the victory procession. “We got them done at a store in Malleswaram. We have 600, which we will use during the victory procession,” said Vijay.

Congress workers had gathered in big numbers, too. “After Rizwan lost last time we started working immediately. We were on the field for six months. We have brought along a garland for him,” said Santosh, a party worker.

Residents of Vasanthnagar had a tough time making their way through the cars and two-wheelers parked in front of their homes. Harish Sukumaran, IT professional: “Cars are parked all along the main road and it was impossible for me to take my car out of my house.”

 

Bullet-proof, riot vehicles on duty

Seemanth Kumar Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said 3,000 police personnel were on duty across the city on counting day. “There are 1,000 police personnel at each centre---KSRP, BSF, Central Reserve Police Force and the city police. We also have two bullet-proof armoured vehicles to patrol the city. Six riot vehicles are also at hand for crowd control,” he told Metrolife.

Adequate parking provided

P Harishekaran, additional commissioner of police (traffic) said 1,200 traffic personnel were on special duty on counting day. “About 350 of our staff are deployed at each counting centre,” he told Metrolife. He also said his men had made parking arrangements for all three centres.

Slow meals

Officials on counting duty at St Joseph’s Indian High School were happy with the food and the amenities, but those on duty at Mount Carmel College were upset. “We didn’t get proper breakfast and our lunch was delayed beyond reasonable limits,” an official said.

 

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