Voter ‘Chops Off Finger’ After Casting Ballot for Wrong Party in India

April 19, 2019 Updated: April 19, 2019

A man in India reportedly cast a vote for the wrong political party and in an emotional fit chopped off his own finger.

Pawan Kumar, a 25-year-old villager from Abdullapur Hulaspur, was reported by India Today as having accidentally pressed the wrong button at a polling station. He cast his vote on Thursday, April 18, in Bulandshahr, in the second phase of India’s massive, staggered election.

Kumar was so frustrated by his error, Hindustan Times reported, that he “returned home and chopped off his finger with a chopper.”

The Times reported that the young man was featured in a video later posted on social media, “saying that he chopped off his finger to repent his mistake.”

The fingers of voters in India are marked with ink after they cast their ballot.

a woman gets her finger inked
A woman gets her finger inked before casting her vote at a polling station during India’s general election in Mawiong Umjapung, in the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, on April 11, 2019. (David Talukdar/AFP/Getty Images)

Citing the video, the BBC reported Kumar wanted to vote for a regional party—which uses the symbol of an elephant—but ended up casting his vote for the one currently in power—whose identifying mark is a lotus flower.

Symbols are commonly used by political parties as identifying marks in India’s elections due to low literacy.

“I wanted to vote for the elephant, but I voted for the flower by mistake,” Kumar said in the video, the BBC reported.

Kumar wanted to vote for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) but instead ended up supporting the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

World’s Biggest Election

With around 900 million eligible voters, India’s election the biggest in the world.

Millions of voters across swathes of southern India cast ballots on Thursday, April 18, in the second phase of the staggered general election.

voters line up in India
Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the second phase of the general election in Amroha, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India, on April 18, 2019. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

Sporadic violence flared in the east and in the insurgency-wracked state of Jammu and Kashmir, Reuters reported.

The results of the election to India’s 545-member Parliament are expected on May 23.

In focus are the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where the main opposition Congress party and its allies need to win big if they hope to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from securing a second straight term.

Outbreaks of Violence

Sporadic violence was reported in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, where separatists have called for an election boycott, and the eastern state of West Bengal, which has a history of election clashes.

Police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwers in Srinagar, the Himalayan region’s main city, where thousands of troops had been deployed to guard the vote. The turnout there was less than 8 percent, according to provisional election commission data.

“There has been stone pelting by protesters in at least 40 places,” said a senior police officer who sought anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

voters in India
Voters at a polling station in Amroha, India, April 18, 2019. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

Police in the West Bengal constituency of Darjeeling also fired tear gas at protesters who complained they had not been allowed to vote, said top district official Arvind Kumar Mina.

“They had blocked a highway and had to be dispersed,” he added.

On Thursday morning, the body of a 20-year-old worker for the BJP’s youth wing was found hanging from a tree in West Bengal’s Purulia district, party officials and local police said.

“The night before he died he was seen writing graffiti for BJP for the elections. In the night he was reported missing. His body was found today,” said local BJP leader Vidyasagar Chakrabarty.

Sweeping Victories

In the last general election in 2014, the BJP recorded sweeping victories in six northern states that delivered 70 percent of its seats, helping clinch a landslide majority, said academic Neelanjan Sircar.

“You can never expect you’ll do that again,” added Sircar, a political science professor at Ashoka University near the capital New Delhi. “Those seats that you lose, you’ll have to make up somewhere.”

Eastern and southern India would be where the BJP would look to make up those seats, analysts said.

Congress, which is focusing on concerns about growing joblessness and farmers’ distress, is staking its chances on a promise of generous handouts to India’s poorest families.

“People are talking about national issues,” said Manjunath Munirathnappa, a voter in Bengaluru, who hoped lawmakers would resolve infrastructure woes, such as traffic congestion and inadequate water supply. “But only when they fix the local issues will there be progress.”

The staggered election began last week and ends next month.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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