The onus of ensuring fear-free voting at seven booths in Bihar’s Maoist belt was on women.
Fourteen of the 32 assembly seats where polling was held in the second phase on Friday are Maoists-affected. The threat to life from landmines and guns forces the district authorities to relocate polling booths to safer government buildings; 26 of 2,937 booths in Gaya district were shifted this time, two less than in 2010.
The fear factor, though, was drowned by the feel-good factor as Gaya became India’s first district headquarters to have all-women personnel at seven booths. Among the district’s 62 model polling stations, these booths were in the heart of the town.
Of the 6,315 voters enrolled at these seven booths, 46% cast their votes. The turnout was less than what the district recorded overall. But this was no dampener. “I am proud to be part of history. It feels nice to have undertaken such a responsibility,” said Kiran Bala, presiding officer of booth number 96 at Mahavir School.
The women personnel drafted for poll duty were teachers, government employees, or bank staff.
Though the EC does not prescribe any dress code for polling personnel, all women staff at these booths were clad in shades of pink that matched the booth’s colour scheme.
Watch | Gaya becomes India’s first district to have all women personnel polling booths