PATIALA: A red carpet rolled out in a polling booth in Patiala where Capitan Amarinder Singh and his family will cast their vote triggered accusations from rival parties that the special treatment was aimed at the Congress' chief ministerial candidate, a local royal.
- Patiala is one of the 2 seats from where Amarinder Singh is contesting
- He was announced as Congress' chief ministerial candidate in Punjab
- Amarinder Singh is the former Chief Minister of Punjab and ex-Amritsar MP
Patiala is one of the two assembly seats from where Amarinder Singh is contesting.
Lambi constituency - a four-hour long drive from Patiala - is the other. There, Amarinder Singh has challenged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of the Akali Dal who has never lost an election from this seat since 1997.
It is in Patiala - where he is pitted against Akali Dal candidate, India's first Sikh Army chief JJ Singh - however, that Amarinder Singh is at home. His forefathers were Maharajas of Patiala.
As polling started early this morning, there were murmurs of protest from polling agents of rival parties at the VIP polling booth.
Flustered at the attention that the special arrangements were getting, election officials initially rolled back the red carpet.
It was, however, rolled out again, sometime later.
Election officials brushed aside charges that the special treatment was targeted at an individual voter, or a candidate.
The Election Commission had come up with the concept of a model polling booth during elections to the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly. A red carpet welcome of the voters and flowers being presented to them was one part of the concept.
"One important defining fact for such a value addition would be the actual experience of the voter at the polling station on the day of voting," the Election Commission's manual says, outlining facilities that a model booth should have including standby arrangement in case of power cuts.