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‘Ballot battle’ for PM in Surat’s Ganesh pandal

Giving a political touch to this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi festival that starts on Monday,Surat’s Alkapuri Ganesh Yuva Mandal has set up a ‘voting machine’ in its pandal so that visitors can ‘vote’ for the next prime minister

Written by Kamaal Saiyed | Surat | Published: September 8, 2013 5:06:18 am

Giving a political touch to this year’s Ganesh Chaturthi festival that starts on Monday,Surat’s Alkapuri Ganesh Yuva Mandal has set up a ‘voting machine’ in its pandal so that visitors can ‘vote’ for the next prime minister.

The machine,which looks like an EVM,is attached to a huge screen that will display the number of votes each political leader has got during the 10-day festival. It has five buttons with names,party symbols and pictures of leaders. On the top is Narendra Modi,followed by Rahul Gandhi,Nitish Kumar,Mulayam Singh Yadav,and ‘others’.

Last year,Chief Minister Narendra Modi had visited this pandal.

Dilip Sojitra,who heads the Alkapuri Ganesh Yuva Mandal,said,“We have spent around Rs one crore on the entire celebrations. The poll on who would be our next PM is the special attraction this year. Surat boasts of a cosmopolitan culture and is also home to lakhs of people from Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Orissa,Maharashtra,Andhra Pradesh,Kerala and other states. Our intention is to get an opinion from different states on who they would like to see as their next PM. During the 10 days of celebration,there will be voting everyday. This survey will reflect the views of not just a city but also the country. We expect eight lakh people. This year,too,we have invited the CM.”

Software expert Masud Vorajee,who has designed and customised the electronic voting machine,said,“This was Sojitra’s idea. We have 25 machines attached to a laptop. Through WiFi connection the voting will be displayed on a screen. We have trained 30 volunteers to go around 30 m radius of the pandal,requesting people to cast their votes. We have given a 10-15 second lag between each vote cast. We expect 30,000 footfalls daily. Technical experts will be on the standby to handle any hitch. The entire area is under CCTV surveillance to ensure that there is no cheating.”

The pandal,located on the Sumul Dairy road,is designed like Udaipur’s Sheesh Mahal. Its marble Ganesha idol will be 10 feet high with diamonds studded on the crown,trunk and wrists. The pandal will organise discourses by spiritual leaders,performances by a Nasik-based band and Sidi tribe from Junagadh.The organisers mainly comprise diamond and textile traders.

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