Goa parties demand end to prolonged postal balloting

Panaji, Feb 23 (IANS) All opposition parties in Goa, barring the AAP, on Thursday asked the Election Commission to scrap the long postal ballot process, claiming the 35 days allotted for doing so was detrimental to free and fair voting.

“Postal balloting process should be scrapped forthwith and a fresh polling date announced whenin all service voters eligible for postal balloting should be allowed to cast their votes,” Goa Forward spokesperson Durgadas Kamat told reporters here after a meeting of different parties.

At the meeting, representatives of the Congress, Goa Forward, Goa Suraaj Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Vikas Party and Goa Suraksha Manch were present.

“The conclave was highly critical of the mess created due to EC action to keep voting lines for postal ballots open for over 35 days. All opposition political parties are of the opinion that it is not right,” Kamat said.

“The current postal balloting cannot be justified on any rational ground. It has brought disgrace to the whole election process,” he added.

Around 17,590 government servants and police personnel, who were deployed for the February 4 assembly polls, are eligible to cast their votes through post anytime before 8 a.m. on March 11, when counting will taken place in five states.

The meeting deliberated the addition of nearly 1,000 jawans posted in various cantonment areas in Goa to the electoral rolls in the state on assembly elections eve.

“The conclave expects the EC to investigate whether procedures were followed in this regard as the number of voters enrolled during the final round of revision of electoral rolls has led to doubts,” the opposition parties said in a statement after the Thursday meeting.

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said the Bharatiya Janata Party’s opponents were staring at defeat and therefore complaining without reason.

“We are not complaining because we are sure of a comfortable majority (in the next assembly). They know they have lost the elections and are therefore coming up with excuses to conceal their failure,” Parsekar told reporters here.

“I don’t believe government servants who conducted the elections will sell their votes for money,” Parsekar said.