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What a vote costs in democracy?

After keeping polling officials on their toes for hours, a lone voter in a booth at Perambra seat exercised his vote.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 16:52 IST

After keeping polling officials on their toes for hours, a lone voter in a booth at Perambra assembly constituency in Kerala exercised his precious franchise on Saturday afternoon causing the exchequer thousands of rupees!

Cherangattu Dasan, who attained the status of a VIP for keeping the 'babus', six in number, including a policeman and a driver, engaged since yesterday and evoking much interest throughout, turned up for voting at the Office of the Assistant Engineer Kakkayam Civil Maintenance Station, atop a hillock, at 13:56 hrs.

Although an exact figure was not available, a polling official said the Government had to shell out thousands of rupees in the way of TA/DA and transportation expenses for the employees for extricating a vote.

With this booth No 156 had the distinction of 100 per cent polling in the state.

The hapless officials, who reached at the booth yesterday, descended only in the evening even after the voting because as per the Election Commission norms booths could only be closed after 1700 hrs.

Dasan was the lone voter at the booth at Kakkayam Dam site in the 2004 general elections as well.

In a bid to close down the lone booth, the Election Commission had recently sent feelers to Dasan to exercise his franchise at another booth, 13 kms away. But the response was lukewarm as he said "nothing will happen if I stay away from voting," according to sources.

The Commission cannot dictate terms either as according to stipulation the voting centre should be within 1.5 km radius of the place of residence of a voter.

Hailing from Pambady in Kottayam district, Mr Dasan came to Kakkayam as an employee of Charangattu estate in 1968 and now stays in the dense forest along with his five cows.

Earlier, there were 350 voters in the booth. But others left after the estate was closed down.

According to reports Dasan's decision was influenced by the Estate owner, who was engaged in a legal battle to prevent a take-over bid by the Government.