In an indication that the Pune Lok Sabha bypoll may be announced soon, the district election office Wednesday conducted a mock polling.
It has also accelerated the preparations for the bypoll to the seat which fell vacant after the demise of sitting BJP MP Girish Bapat a few months back.
An officer at the district election office said, “The Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have been kept at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown at Koregaon Park. The mock poll was conducted on Wednesday by mixing one per cent of the total EVMs at the FCI.”
The process of mixing the EVMs entails procuring the machines from various locations across the country to conduct an election.
Of the total EVMs, one per cent from each slot of those procured from other locations are taken for mock polls.
The mock poll is done to ensure the EVMs are operating properly by matching the VVPAT slips after each vote.
Earlier, additional municipal commissioner Ravindra Binawade of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had directed 120 civic staff on election duty to attend the mock polling. “It is mandatory for the civic staff on election duty to attend the mock poll. Those found absent will have to face disciplinary action,” he had said.
The district election office has been provided 60 clerks and 60 peons for election duty by the PMC. Earlier, the election office had roped in staff of other government organisations as Booth Level Officers (BLO) to carry out enrollment and verification of voters. The district election office also collected information about the polling booths and other necessary facilities required for the polling.
Bapat passed away on March 29 this year. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in May 2019 after defeating Mohan Joshi of Congress. As per the law, a Lok Sabha seat cannot remain vacant for more than six months.
All political parties are taking the Pune Lok Sabha bypoll very seriously, all the more since the general election is barely a year away and the outcome of the byelection will set the tone for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
The bypoll, if it is conducted, will come in the backdrop of an intense fight in the recently held Kasba Assembly bypoll which was won by Congress candidate Ravindra Dhangekar by defeating BJP candidate Hemant Rasane in the BJP bastion.
The BJP had won the seat in the previous six elections and had made the bypoll a prestige issue to prove its hold on the politics of the city. The Kasba bypoll was held due to the death of sitting BJP legislator Mukta Tilak.