Historic ZP polls with I-card compulsion tomorrow

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 05 February 2000 23:12 IST

Goa is going for polls once again within four months tomorrow, this time for the first ever zilla panchayat elections, which is being conducted by making mandatory for the voter to bring identity document for polling, to avoid bogus voting.

While ZPs were constituted on paper in Goa six years ago, the state government was finally directed by the high court to get elected bodies to represent the ZPs. Legislators belonging to all political parties were otherwise avoiding it, fearing losing their hold over the lucrative developmental schemes in villages.

The highlight of the first ZP elections being held in Goa however is the new rule enacted by the state election commission to bring any kind of evidence to prove the voter's identity. It could be any authorised identity card with a photograph or even photo-less documents like ration cards.

"Voters alone can guard their right through voluntary obedience. The election commission has only provided legal support and backing to the citizen. It is for the voter to take maximum benefit of such an order", states Prabhakar Timble, the state election commissioner.

Though the commission effectively utilised mediums like newspapers and radio to make the rural voter aware of the new rule, the local Doordarshan simply refused to show the three-minute impressive visual clippings produced by the commission on flimsy technical grounds. It was finally telecast only for one day, after much persuasion.

Goa's ZP elections have also become unique in the country because of special seats reserved for OBC women when the Parliament is still debating over the issue. Both the ZP constituencies have two seats each reserved for the OBC women.

While rounding up the figure of reservation for women to 33 per cent, around seven per cent seats among it are reserved for the OBC women. No other reservation for any community are made, unlike in the village panchayat elections.

Both the North and the South Goa ZP constituencies have 30 and 20 segments each, comprising of total over six lakh voters. Though general Goan public and even quite a large number of candidates are still fully not aware of the role ZP would play, Timble still feels large turnout for the polling tomorrow.

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