Nearly 43,000 graduates cast invalid votes in the recently held election to the Telangana Legislative Council from two graduates constituencies – nearly 6 per cent of the total votes.
Surabhi Vani Devi, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) candidate and former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao’s daughter, defeated sitting BJP candidate N Ramchander Rao in Hyderabad-Ranga Reddy-Mahabubnagar constituency; while TRS nominee and sitting MLC Palla Rajeshwar Reddy won from the Khammam-Warangal-Nalgonda constituency.
Social media users had a field day making fun of the graduates whose votes had to be invalidated.
“Why degrees and jobs? Unemployment allowance is better”, and “Do we need to fill vacancies in government offices with these Oxford grads” were among the messages on Twitter.
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Vani Devi, herself an academic, raised concerns over the quality of education being imparted to young people.
“We have been in teaching profession for the last 30 years. I feel we should introspect if this is the education we gave to our people,” she said. “More than 20,000 votes were found invalid [in my constituency]. This is a huge number. They are all degree, PG and PhD holders,” she said.
The legislative council comprises members from different walks of life, who bring their own life experiences to the House. Graduates form one section. Elections to fill two such vacancies were held on March 14 and the counting of ballot papers lasted till Saturday evening.
K Nageshwar, a former MLC and intellectual, attributed the number of invalid votes to the enrolment of bogus voters in the graduates’ lists by certain political parties.
What surprised election officials was that only four of the total 93 candidates in the fray – including Nageshwar – polled more than the number of invalid votes. “It is like invalid votes came in fifth place,” one official said.
As many as 21,309 invalid votes were found among the 3,58,348 votes polled in Hyderabad-Ranga Reddy-Mahabubnagar constituency. Khammam-Warangal-Nalgonda reported 21,636 invalid votes among the total 3,86,302.
Some voters wrote ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Fill vacancies in government’ on their ballot papers, and some wrote the names of the candidates.