NARAINGARH: Paddy and festival seasons declined the voter turnout in the Haryana assembly election for this seat by 8%. The election officer reported the voting percentage to be 74 in 211 polling stations, compared with 82 in 2014.
On Monday, 1.83-lakh voters had the right to decide the fate of 12 candidates in Naraingarh . In the villages of Chhoti Bassi, Badda, Basumajra, Mirzapur, Kurali, and the urban area of Mandi, the turnout till 3pm was between 20 and 25%. Women had turned up in bigger numbers then men, who were busy in fields.
Keeping in mind the festival time, the parties offered snacks, lunch, and drinks of choice to the villagers who turned up at the polling stations. For the first time, the election office gave pick and drop to the voters who had health issues or no vehicle. Jumaro Kumari, who came from Shiv Colony, said: "My husband is in the field and will come to vote after lunch. This is the most crucial time for a farmer, as paddy is ready for shipping to the market. Voting is secondary to us."
Daljeet Rani of Mirzapur said: "The election commission forgot that it was festival season and people would be busy in Diwali preparations. Many families are at daughter's house for her first Diwali after marriage, so they can't turn up for polling." But for Kureshni, 85, voting is first priority on the polling day. She came with her elder son at 10am to cast her mandate and said afterwards: "Why aren't women coming forward to fulfil this important duty. It is about the future of their kids and their kitchen budget."
Randir Singh, 40, overcame his physical challenge to cast his vote at Kurali. He came to the polling station with the help of two friends. For the first time, he found not only a wheelchair but also two assistants.
'Floor test' outside polling stations
First time in the Haryana assembly elections , political agents sat on the floor outside polling stations to stay within the expenditure limit of their candidates.
In some of the villages of this constituency, the Congress and BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) workers claimed they had spent not a penny on stalls where they guide voters before they step into the polling booth. At Chhota Bassi, a bunch of Congress workers were sitting on the tarpaulin cover for harvested paddy crop. Group member Sham Singh said: "We do not have money for chairs and tables, and in villages, people like to sit on the floor."
Workers of the Loktanter Suraksha Party (LSP) were spread out on the floor nearby, calling voters who had not arrived till 2pm. In a few villages, parties had pitched expensive tents with full furniture set and drinking-water points outside polling stations but there were also workers who had shared the cost burden of their candidate.
The sarpanch of Kurali, Sanjeev Kumar, sat with dozens of young BJP workers on the floor, analyzing the voting trends. He said: "We don't want our candidate to spend on us workers. We go home for tea and snacks in between." Ground connect.