Postal ballots could be decisive in Uttarakhand

Dehradun : With both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress on tenterhooks, as political observers feel that the voters have kept both the political parties and candidates guessing and as to which side they went during the vidhan sabha election held on jan 30, much could depend upon the postal ballots this time.

They were of the view that as there is a neck to neck contest in the offing in quite a few assembly segments in the state, postal ballots could make or mar the prospects of a candidate. More so in this election, as those intending to caste their ballots by post have ample time till 8 a m of March 6, the date of counting, by when the postal ballots must reach.

There are over one lakh voters mostly military and para-military personnel, comprising 69,367 males and 31,070 females who are registered as voters who will be using the postal ballot for these vidhan sabha elections. In 19 assembly segments where their strength ranges from over 1500 to over 5700, they could tilt the scales.

The maximum number of such voters assembly segment wise is 5810 in Chaubatakhal, followed by 5799 in Didihat and 5225 in Karanprayag. The lesser numbers are 1559 in Devprayag, 1767 in Sahaspur and 1943 in Rudraprayag. District wise, the largest number about 23,000 is in Pauri district, 15,306 in Pithoragarh district and 13,214 in Chamoli district.

However, political observers here feel that the postal ballots, which were earlier known to have gone in favour of the BJP in the last vidhan sabha elections, could be divided this time. “The main reason for this is that there have been three retired generals in the fray this time, one each for the Congress, one for the BJP and one for the Raksha Morcha”, they contended.

They said that in the 19 assembly segments where they are in sizeable numbers, the postal ballots could be the deciding factor. “One should not forget that in the 2008 Lok Sabha by-election from Pauri Garhwal, the Congress candidate Satpal Maharaj had won by 108 votes when counting by EVMs was done.

However, when the postal ballots were counted, the balance tilted and the then BJP candidate Maj Gen T P S Rawat won by about 4500 votes as an overwhelming majority of army personnel favoured the army man to the senior Congress leader”, they pointed out.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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