Gujarat Elections 2012: Bhutan delegation impressed with electoral practices

A delegation from Bhutan, which is on a visit to Gujarat to study the election process, is impressed with the peaceful conduct of assembly polls.

Ahmedabad: A delegation from Bhutan, which is on a visit to Gujarat to study the election process, is impressed with the peaceful conduct of assembly polls in the state and hope to take home some electoral lessons.

Bhutan Deputy Governor Chewang Jurmi said, "We have witnessed quite and peaceful elections here. The entire process is very well coordinated and is going on smoothly."

Wishing to replicate the good electoral practices during polls in the Himalayan Kingdom, Jurmi said priority given to senior citizens and women for voting is a good move which can result in voter turnout increase.

"Priority to senior citizens and women to exercise their franchise is a step in the right direction ," he said.

The door-to-door distribution of voter slips to electors is another electoral practice that has caught the attention of the 10-member delegation.

While, in Bhutan, voters are frisked before they enter the polling station, there is no-frisking of electors in India. It is another voter-friendly process that the delegation from Himalayan Kingdom is interested in implementing in their country.

Jurmi said that voters here have the option to exercise their franchise even without Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) by showing any of the mandatory 15 documents which is not the case in Bhutan, where one cannot vote if one does not possess the Voter Photo Identity Card.

The delegation also expressed their satisfaction over the dry day (no alcohol) rule during polling periods (Dec 13-17).

The delegation from Bhutan comprised four deputy governors, Brigadier Singye Dorji of the Royal Bhutan Army, two Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), a police official, two Majors (one each from Army and Police).

A member of the delegation said that they were totally associated with the election duty in Bhutan unlike officers here, who have to double up in various capacities as state administrative officers and poll duty officers.

Another members expressed surprise over the fact that electors here dress as they wish on the voting day while in Bhutan it is mandatory to dress up in National Dress on the polling day.

The national dress for Bhutanese men is the gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist.

The delegation was on a visit to Gujarat under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Chief Election Commissioners of India and Bhutan in September 2011.

Under the MoU, the two countries agreed to exchange knowledge and experience, information, material, expertise and technical knowhow, training of personnel and development of human resources in electoral matters for a period of five years.