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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Old-style elections

On Sunday elections were held to fill 30 seats of the Panjim City Corporation. I'm not sure what that's supposed to be yet so I'll just stick to what I know. There are 30 seats up for grabs and 2 main 'panels' to choose from. The BJP is putting up one panel in conjunction with Somnath Zuwarkar. The other panel was put up by Babush Monseratte...Ostensibly on behalf of the Congress. If there's anyone who doesn't realise how funny all this is, here's a short history lesson.

Somnath Zuwarkar was the 'Zamindar' style Congress ruler of Taleigao. Babush Monseratte was the 'smuggler' who lived in a palatial bungalow in Taleigao. Babush was cultivated by the BJP as politician because of his money power and his ability to challenge Zuwarkar on his home ground. Babush came to power thru the BJP and when they tried to clip his wings because of his meteoric rise he went over to the Congress who welcomed his money and influence with open arms. There was a brief tussle for Taleigao in which Zuwarkar was annihilated. At present Babush IS the congress arm in Panjim.

Anyway, I went along for the elections cos my dad at present thinks Babush is the only one doing something for the people. Atleast he spends a lot on the people, which is more than can be said of most politicians.

I went along with my mom cos my dad had already voted earlier. As usual the elections were in a dilapidited Govt. school on the way to the Dona Paula Jetty. We got to go straight in cos my mom is disabled. No standing in lines for us. Actually my mom could have managed alone with a walker but this way I got to go along with her and vote too.
We entered and my mom was directed to one table with a cardboard placed on it to divide it into 4 sections. Then it was my turn and a lady gave me a piece of paper folded in 4 and a stick with both ends having a raised X. I figured I had to stamp the X on something and I was horrified. I've voted before but I've always had an electronic voting machine. Just press the button next to the right name/symbol and you're done. You can't go wrong. But this was a stick. (Calling it a stamp would be an insult to stamps everywhere.) Just to be sure I asked Ms. gave-me-a-stick what I had to do. She told me I had to stamp with the stick and motioned to the desk. Fine I went over to the desk and looked at it. Nothing. Bare desk. I took a chance and looked at the next partition. Bare desk again. Thats when it struck me. Apparently the paper given wasn't just to tell me I'd voted. I opened it and saw to my relief that I was right. thats when another dilemma arose. There were 3 sections or rows. In each section there was the candidates name on the left, the symbol on the right and loads of space around each. Where was I supposed to place the damn stamp. In the end I stamped the symbol. I almost stamped the name of the candidate too just to be sure but then I wasn't sure whether that would disqualify my vote.

Apparently you can stamp anywhere in the setion for a particular candidate. Good to know incase I've got to do it again though I hope to God I never have to see those election officals again. Embarrassment lasts a long time.