Notwithstanding special arrangements made by the Election Commission, booth level officers (BLO) and polling personnel failed to exercise their franchise due to the lack of form 12A.
At several booths, BLOs rued that despite the directive of the returning officer (deputy commissioner), the block development officer (BDO) did not provide them with form 12A so that they could get the Election Duty Certificate (EDC) for casting votes at the place of duty.
There were 1,500 booths in four assembly segments of Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency where BLOs were deployed at each polling station.
“How would we ensure 100% polling in the constituency when we could not cast votes despite all preparations?” Sandhya Goswamy, the BLO of 104 number booth in Hirapur, said. According to Goswamy, during the election training on April 19, the deputy commissioner (returning officer) had directed the officers concerned to provide form 12A to all BLOs. But against 400 BLOs, only 100 forms were made available. When they met Dhanbad Sadar BDO Rinku Kumari the next day, she expressed her helplessness to provide the form.
However Sumanti Kumari, a BLO posted at booth no 141 at Kala Bhavan did not get EDC despite filling up form 12A.
Since this time, BLOs had been given the responsibility of providing queue status and polling percentage to the voters at an interval of every 30 minutes, they were not in a position to leave the booths.
However, the sub-divisional magistrate-cum-deputy returning officer (DRO), Abhishek Srivastav, said there was no dearth of forms and whoever approached him were provided with Election Duty Certificates (ECD).
“Till the night of April 22, I distributed form 12A among poll personnel as well as BLOs. Altogether, 1,049 forms were distributed among them,” he said. However, he added that those polling personnel and BLOs whose names were not there in the voters’ list might have been left out.
The district administration had this time made special arrangements for poll officials to cast their votes at the polling centre where they were on duty. As per the arrangements, the poll officials whose names were registered in the voters’ list in Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency were given Election Duty Certificate (EDC) for casting votes at the very booth where he/she was on duty on the day of polling. For this, the poll personnel had to fill Form 12A, besides providing details of his name as it appears in the voters’ list, booth number, voter number and voter card.
Under this arrangement, altogether 13,000 poll personnel (including BLOs) and 3,000 police personnel were targeted to cast their votes.