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TN polls: For party cadre, job isn't over yet

By: The New Indian Express

Last Updated: April 18, 2011, 09:23 IST

TN polls: For party cadre, job isn't over yet

Dedicated party workers are now keeping a vigil at the various counting centres where the EVMs have been kept.

CHENNAI: Feeling a lull after polling of votes for the State Assembly elections was over on April 13, if you think that the cadre of different political parties, who worked round-the-clock during the hustings, must be letting their hair down now, you are wrong.

For, many dedicated party workers are now keeping a round-the-clock vigil at the various counting centres where the EVMs have been locked up in safe rooms and guarded by armed police and para-military forces. The vigil will go on till May 13, when the room will be opened and the EVMs taken out for counting of votes.

It is said that this is the first time political parties have deployed cadre to keep a watch over the EVMs or ballot boxes for this is perhaps the first time that such a gap of one month come between the date of polling and date of counting.

Whatever it is, partymen are seen in Anna University, Queen Mary’s College and Loyola College, where the EVMs are kept over and above the three tier security arrangement made by the Election Commission with the help of the paramilitary forces, Tamil Nadu Special Police force and the local police. Apart from the party functionaries, even some members of the public feel reassured with the new arrangement.

“Though the Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to safeguard the EVM machines. But more than the party cadre, even the common man is anxious about the safety of EVMs,” said J C D Prabhakar, the AIADMK candidate from Villivakkam.

Recalling an incident, Prabhakar told Express that after the polling was over an elderly lady from Villivakkam constituency made a call to his mobile phone and advised him to take personal care of the EVMs as ‘anything can happen to prevent Amma from becoming Chief Minister’.

“It was such personal appeals from the voters that led to our deploying party cadre to guard the EVMs. We are taking care of their food and other expenses,” Prabhakar added.

The party cadre, who had volunteered to safeguard the EVMs, too consider it an honour. “This is an occasion for us to prove our loyality to our party. I will be losing my half month salary but serving the party is much more imporatant anything else in the world,” said David, an AIADMK cadre from Villivakkam, who had been involved in election work since the announcement of the polling schedule.

David, who, along with three other party cadre, spends his night at Loyala College, has been irregular to work for the past one month - he is employed as an assistant cook in a private company. Shanmugham, a DMK cadre from Kolathur said, “this is an honour for us to serve our Thalapati (M K Stalin).”

EVMs, voters emerge heroes

In many ways, the April 13 elections for the 14th Assembly of Tamil Nadu gained historic significance. Apart from the unprecedented voter turnout of 78.5 per cent, one thing that marked the election was the attitude of leaders to EVMs. For the first time, no one had any issues with the EVMs and all political parties reposed faith in simple machine.

Another entity that enjoyed the complete faith of political parties was the voter, particularly whom politicians gave money. For, after the elections were over, it became very clear that some parties had maintained records of the money distribution. It was also learnt that political party leaders, not completely believing their local functionaries, had formed committees to closely watch the money distribution exercise.

But nobody took any promissory note from the voter to whom money was given. It was done in good faith. The parties that did not have confidence on their own functionaries and hence wanted the accounts to be maintained and the distribution watched by several persons believed that a voter will not go back on the word after taking money. So, the voters turned up in such a large number at polling booths across the state for the first time.

Whether people wanted change or maintenance of status quo will be known only after the votes are counted on May 13. Incidentally that is another record - the number of days EVMs (earlier years it was ballot boxes) remaining inside locked rooms.
first published:April 18, 2011, 09:23 IST
last updated:April 18, 2011, 09:23 IST