Deep in the core area of the Nagarahole National Park, five Border Security Force (BSF) personnel armed with guns kept a watch around the polling booth at Moorkal, which is about 15 km from Veeranahosahalli check post of the tiger reserve on Thursday.
A few constables roped in from the local police station gave them company while presiding officer Mohan Hegde and assistant presiding officer Nagesh along with other staff impatiently looked at their watches. The sectoral officer made rounds regularly while a Home Guard was also on duty alongside the BSF personnel and local constables. Forest Department staff kept themselves busy, breezing in and out of the area in their vehicles to ensure that every thing was in place for the smooth conduct of polls.
Yet, something was amiss. There were no voters. Not a single voter had turned up till 11 a.m. The polling station at Moorkal caters to 26 voters from the nearby Kolangere hamlet and about 50 staff, including security personnel, were deployed there.
“The polling station caters to the adivasis who live inside the forest and they generally turn up late in the noon,” explained Kavitha, local panchayat officer deployed for election duty. As speculated, the voters did turn up late in the afternoon.
Last year, during the Assembly elections, there were 31 voters. But a few families have since then shifted outside the tiger reserve and hence their names were deleted, according to Ms. Kavitha.
There were efforts this year to shut down the Moorkal polling station and shift the voters to Nittooru, 8 km from Kolangere, but they did not come through. If a few more families decide to relocate from Kolangere hamlet, then shutting down Moorkal polling station may be inevitable.