With only one-sixth of the postal ballots for Goa Assembly polls being returned by voters so far, the state election office has warned political parties to refrain from pressuring or bribing government servants to cast vote in their favour. Goa’s Additional Chief Electoral Officer Narayan Navati, in a press note issued on Thursday, said, “Allegations are made by several people, including representatives of political parties and candidates, that government servants who have been issued postal ballot papers have been pressurised by some of the candidates to cast vote in their favour.” He also said that strict action would be taken against those found guilty in this connection.
The election office has also publicised its helpline and email address asking people to bring such instances to their notice as they want to protect the secrecy of voting. Total 17,500 postal ballots were dispatched to various government servants engaged in election duty and voters from Goa who are serving in para-military forces outside the state. “The Chief Electoral Office at Goa has received only 3,300 postal ballots, which makes for hardly one-sixth of the total chunk,” a senior election official said.
The election officials are wary as the rate of postal ballots being returned to their office is not picking up, though the polling was held on February 4 for the 40-member state Legislative Assembly. “The Chief Electoral Officer had convened a special meeting on February 15 cautioning the representatives of political parties about the rumours that candidates are approaching the holders of postal ballots and bribing such officials for casting postal ballots in their favour, undermining secrecy and purity of voting,” Navati said.
“The representatives of political parties were instructed to bring such instances to the notice of the chief electoral office. It was emphasised that giving and taking bribe is punishable,” he said.