Bengal Assembly gears up for Prez poll

By bappaditya paul

Amid continuing suspense over who chief minister Mamata  Banerjee will support for the President’s post, the West Bengal  Assembly secretariat is gearing up for the Presidential election to  be held on 19 July.

The election cell of the Assembly has printed 350 ballot papers for  the poll and two of its officials are flying to New Delhi on 14 July  to bring back a specially made ballot box. The state’s assistant chief  electoral officer Amitava Sengupta and the officer-on-special duty  Joydeep Mukherjee will accompany them.

The state Assembly has 294 directly elected members who can vote in the Presidential election.  By virtue of their posts, the secretary of the state Assembly  Jadab Lal Chakraborty and special secretary Buddeswar Mahanti also happen  to be the assistant returning officers (ARO) for the Presidential election in Bengal.

They will conduct the poll with assistance from other  officials of the election cell.

“The preparation is almost complete. We have printed 350 ballots, as  irrespective of how many members cast their votes, preparations have  to be made for all. Of the additional ballots, 25 will be handed over  to the Parliament secretariat so that any MLA from Bengal can exercise  their franchise in Delhi, if they so desire,” Mr Chakraborty said.

“This is because the ballot papers for each of the state are printed  separately by the respective Assemblies. However, ballot papers for  the Members of Parliament (MP) are uniform for the entire country and  those are printed by the Parliament secretariat.”

The polling in West Bengal will be held in the Debating Chamber of the  Assembly from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For this, four polling desks and two  covered polling cubicles are being installed in the well of the  Chamber.

“At any one point of time, four MLAs can enter the polling booth. They  will be tended by polling officials at the four desks, each of which  will be equipped with a chair for the MLAs to sit. One of us, among  the two AROs, will be functioning as the Presiding Officer,” Mr  Chakraborty added.

After polling is over, the ballot box will be stored in a strong room at  the Assembly. An officer of deputy secretary rank will fly the ballot  box to Delhi the next morning, for the counting of votes on 22 July.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece first appeared in The Statesman on 13 July 2012.)

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