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Postal ballots misled BJP into premature celebration

india Updated: Nov 08, 2015 18:15 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times
Bihar election results

A desolate look at the BJP headquarters as results of the Bihar State Assembly Elections were being announced, in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/ HT Photo)

Morning shows the day, they say. It was not so for the BJP, though.

Celebration for the BJP turned out to be premature, as it miscalculated the early trend, based on counting of postal ballots.

The early trend in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was a clear indication that a substantial portion of some 283,000 registered postal ballot voters had backed the combine.

Among them, about 92,000 “service electors” -- those employed with the armed forces, the central paramilitary forces, diplomats and their families posted abroad – were entitled to exercise their franchise through the postal ballot.

According to Election Commission (EC) sources, some 25,000 of these service electors had voted this year. This was around a thousand more votes over the 2010 assembly election.

Of the remaining, about 1.44 lakh people – comprising government officials away from their home constituencies on election duty -- had also cast their votes through the postal ballot.

“Based on the early trends of counting of votes for the 243 assembly seats shown on TV news channels, it is clear that government officials voted for the NDA,” said an officer requesting anonymity.

Data on region-wise breakup of postal ballot voting was not immediately available.

The EC mandates that counting of postal ballots be done in the first 30 minutes of initiation of the counting process.

“Since the number of postal ballots is few, their counting is usually complete within the allocated time. If not, it is taken up simultaneously along with the EVMs ,” said the officer.

As per EC rules, the final count on postal ballots is released only after completion of the counting of votes for a particular assembly constituency.

“If the winning margin of a candidate is less than the number of postal ballots polled, the EC mandates that it be re-verified though recounting of postal ballots,” the officer added.