Hyderabad: In a first in Telangana state, the security personnel deployed at polling stations will be equipped with breathalysers to check the blood alcohol levels of voters who come to cast their vote. The voters will be tested at random and those found drunk will be booked under Section 188 of IPC and Section 132 of Representation of People Act.
Though it may disturb some of the voters who expect the political parties to woo them by offering liquor, several people have welcomed the initiative by the Election Commission.
S. Muralidhar, a resident of Hyderabad, said, “It is a good move. This will make people aware of the importance of casting their votes wisely. The Election Commission should publish a list of DOs and DON'Ts for voters on the day of voting.”
Abhishek Bhakkad from Ameerpet said, “Party workers lure people, who otherwise are not interested in casting their votes, offering them liquor, biryani, cash etc. Such irresponsible voters should be removed from the electoral list forever.”
The move by the Election Commission follows an appeal filed by K. Jagadeeswar Reddy, a social activist and president of Tamil Nadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi, seeking a directive to deploy breathlysers and other devices at polling booths to prevent people from casting votes under the influence of alcohol.
Speaking to this newspaper, K. Jagadeeshwar Reddy said, “Using breathlysers to screen voters will be one of the crucial steps to ensure free and fair elections. I recently approached Tela-ngana Chief Electoral Officer Rajath Kumar to urge him to take the step. In previous Lok Sabha elections, liquor worth 221 crore worth was seized and instances of drug usage was also reported in some states to influence the voters.”
Mr Rajat Kumar said, “Screening of the entire voters will cause delay in the voting process. So People will be screened randomly.”
Superintendent of police A.V. Ranganath said, “There are expenditure-sensitive constituencies. We will focus more on these constituencies where chances are more to influence voters with liquor and other dole-outs. This will act as a deterrent.”
Jitendar Kumar, additional director general of police (law and order), said, “There will be random checks by the traffic police. As there are around 33,000 polling stations it will be impossible to provide breathlysers to all of them.”...