It was probably the costliest vote in the country. Prime minister Manmohan Singh cast his vote for the Lok Sabha election in the Guwahati constituency on Thursday. He flew down in a special aircraft from New Delhi and spent less than 10 minutes in the Dispur Government Higher Secondary School polling station. He was also accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur.
Emerging from the polling booth, Singh dismissed there was any Modi wave in the country and instead said it (the ‘wave’) was a creation of the media. “I don’t think that the country as a whole is swept by any Modi wave. The Modi wave is the creation of the media,” Singh said taking questions from mediapersons who were put in a special media enclosure temporarily constructed in the school compound. The prime minister also denied that the Congress was losing ground in the current elections. “Well, I don’t think that the Congress party is losing ground,” he said.
“I have come to Guwahati to exercise my right as a citizen of this great country. I am confident that the democratic process of the country is firmly established and I urge all citizens to cast their votes,” he added.
The prime minister, who took a chopper from the LGBI Airport here to the Khanapara playground, drove for about three kms on a black BMW and arrived in the Polling Station No 188 under Dispur LAC segment of the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency, to become the 479th voter to exercise his franchise today.
His wife followed him as the 480th voter to cast her vote. He was inside the polling booth for exactly four minutes and later interacted with the media for two minutes, before driving off, with the entire process of his arrival and departure in the polling station taking exactly nine minutes.
The Dispur Government Higher Secondary School compound was converted into a virtual fortress since yesterday in view of the VVIP’s 9-minute arrival, with voters having to pass through a metal detector as well as a frisking of the body. A special ramp and a partially carpeted approach were also put in place to make the event “smooth.” The PM drove back to the Khanapara playground helipad, took a chopper to the LGBI Airport and then flew back immediately to New Delhi.
Singh, who is an ‘ordinary resident’ of Guwahati since 1990 by virtue of having taken on rent a part-house of the family of former Assam chief minister Hiteswar Saikia at Saru-Motoria, a locality in Dispur here, is registered as voter No 688 (EPIC ID No DZN1842144) at the Dispur Government Higher Secondary School polling station, while his wife Gursharan Kaur bears serial number 689 and EPIC ID No DZN1842155.
The person who cast his vote just ahead of Singh was one Paresh Deka, while the one who followed him was Purnendu Malakar. “It feels good to be a voter in the same booth as the prime minister of India. But I feel bad that though they have done up the school compound for just one person’s vote, there is currently no drinking water for the children studying in this school,” said Dipika Jakharia, a voter who cast her vote about 10 minutes before the VVIP had arrived.