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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Low turnout in Phagwara bypoll; QR slips used to cast votes

Phagwara recorded 74.43 per cent voter turnout in 2012, and 72 percent in 2017, with BJP’s Som Parkash registering a landslide victory both times

india Updated: Oct 21, 2019 22:08 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, Phagwara
Union minister Som Parkash with his wife Anita Parkash and his son Sanjiv after casting their votes in Phagwara on Monday.
Union minister Som Parkash with his wife Anita Parkash and his son Sanjiv after casting their votes in Phagwara on Monday. (HT PHOTO)
         

The Phagwara constituency (reserved) witnessed the lowest voter turnout in bypolls this time as compared to the two previous vidhan sabha elections. This time the constituency recorded 55.97% voting till 6pm. Voting began at all booths by 7am.

Phagwara recorded 74.43 per cent voter turnout in 2012, and 72 percent in 2017, with BJP’s Som Parkash registering a landslide victory both times. By-elections were announced after Parkash resigned and was sworn in as the union minister after winning the Hoshiarpur seat as MP.

A total of 1.85 lakh voters, of which 87,000 were women, cast their vote at 220 booths in the town, and around 1,200 security personnel of central paramilitary force were deployed for security.

The ruling Congress and Opposition party BJP are both claiming they will win Phagwara, whose results will be out on October 24.

Reason behind low turnout

Speaking about the low turn-out in Phagwara and Mukerian, a poll analyst said enthusiasm for bypolls was low among voters in Doaba because they do not believe it makes a difference. As compared to Malwa, the Doaba region has always remained peaceful. The violence in Malwa can be said to indicate enthusiasm among worker and voters, he said. Secondly, in urban areas of Phagwara constituency, public attention is on the festive season rather than polls. Meanwhile, the BJP alleged that urban voters failed to turn up to vote due to the tension created by Congress.

Poll violation: EC notice to Cong candidate

Phagwara sub-divisional magistrate-cum-returning officer Latif Ahmed said a notice has been sent to Congress candidate Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal for violation of model code of conduct as he went to the polling booth number 184 to cast his vote wearing his party’s robe. The SDM said further course of action would be taken after recording Dhaliwal’s statement. Meanwhile, Union minister Parkash demanded an FIR against him for the aforesaid violation.

QR slips used to cast votes in Phagwara

As a pilot project, the election commission of India (ECI) launched quick response (QR) enabled voter slips in Phagwara by-polls. The QR slips were used at all 220 booths including 169 sensitive booths in the town.

“ECI’s pilot project has been introduced in the state and has been launched in Phagwara only,” said SDM Ahmed.

He said the slips were scanned with a cellphone, even without the internet which made it more user-friendly. The app was decided considering that some villages might have weak internet signals or no internet connection.

In the process, when a voter visits the booth to cast his/her vote, the officer at the booth scans the QR code on the polling slip with his cellphone and later, sends it directly to the presiding officer. After this, the presiding officer scans the code and sends the voter to the EVM to cast their vote.

By scanning the code, voters also get to know the details about their booths, such as the number of people in queue, percentage of voting done, among other matters, officials said.