Renuka Chowdhury, Congress candidate from Khammam Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana, cast her vote as voting began across 91 constituencies in the first phase of polling in the country on Thursday. Her photographs from what appears as the polling booth have created a controversy.
Photos published by ANI purportedly showed the 64-year-old Congress leader expressing confidence in her victory after casting her vote. One of the photos shows Chowdhury apparently using a mobile phone.
Use of mobile phones is not allowed in polling booths. Some Twitter users questioned how a leader could be allowed to use a phone in a polling booth.
how can she be allowed talking on phone inside booth?
— India Matters (@iamsitaram) April 11, 2019
Using mobile in polling station. Is it Arrogance or privilege??
— Kadiyala Madhusudan (@kadiyalamadhu) April 11, 2019
Is using mobile phone inside booth allowed ??
— Meet (@Daaku_Mitwa) April 11, 2019
Phone allowed inside booth??
— Chaukidaar Neeraj Nathoo (@neerajnathoo) April 11, 2019
Hello #ceotelangana , when I try to use mobile in polling booth, officials didn’t allow. Why she is using mobile inside polling booth and no one stopping. Ohhhhh there is special privilege?
— Chowkidar SriKrishna (@thebuzz4india) April 11, 2019
It could, however, not be confirmed whether Chowdhury was indeed using a mobile phone or whether she was inside the polling booth at the time the photograph was taken.
Though voters can carry mobile phones inside polling booth, they are not allowed to use the devices even in 100 m radius of the polling booths. All mobile phones are required to be kept in silent mode or switched off.
The Election Commission dictates that “…cellular phones, cordless phones, etc. not to be allowed except officers on duty in the 100 meters of a polling station…during polling, presiding officers and other staff shall keep their mobile switched off in the polling station. If required, they can talk from outside the polling booth…”
Chowdhury, who served as MoS (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Women and Child Development, is facing Vasudev Rao of BJP and Nama Nageswara Rao of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Khammam.
The Khammam Lok Sabha seat is one of most important constituencies in Telangana. Chowdhury, who was with the TDP before joining Congress, has won from this seat twice – in 1999 and 2004. She has also been a three-time Rajya Sabha MP – 1986 and 1992 as TDP candidate and 2012 as Congress candidate.
Nama Nageswara Rao, on the other hand, was a TDP leader before joining the TRS earlier this year. He was immediately given a ticket to contest from the seat.