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Ballot mess ahead of KMC polls

Many doctors yet to receive papers, despite Monday being last date to return them

ELECTIONS to the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) are being held after a long gap of 17 years, even as a large number of the registered doctors across the State are reportedly yet to receive the ballot papers.

Monday is the last date for the doctors to submit the ballot papers. The polls are being held for the posts of president and office-bearers. There are allegations that there have been manipulations while sending the ballot papers.   

While the KMC states it has 54,000 doctors registered with it, candidates to the polls say the numbers could be higher. Dr Aravind Gubbi, one of the candidates, said there were about 60,000 non-teaching and 9,000 teaching doctors. Out of the non-teaching doctors, 60 per cent had not received the ballot papers, he said. 

According to sources, Dr Chikkananjappa (82), the current president – who is among the 30 candidates – wants to retain his position even after holding it for 28 years. Although many appreciate his contribution in terms of the construction of the KMC building and the Vaidya Vidya Bhavan, the new generation wants a change.

“I have heard complaints that KMC officials are very arrogant. It is not just the hearing of medical negligence cases, but doctors visiting the office for change of address or registration are harassed,” said one of the candidates from the teaching category.
There are many reasons why ballot papers have not reached registered doctors, said Dr Vidyasagar, KMC registrar and returning officer for the elections. 

“Many have changed their addresses and have not bothered to update KMC about the same. Nothing can be done about those who have not received the ballot papers. The KMC rules do not allow extension of date,” he said. In fact, of the 16 doctors Deccan Herald spoke to, only nine had received the papers. 

“KMC says it has sent the ballot papers by ordinary post. But, how many have actually received is not known,” Gubbi said. He claimed that in Gulbarga, not even 20 per cent had received the ballot papers. The papers need to be filled and sent back to KMC through post, courier or submitted physically. 

The returning officer puts a seal on the ballot paper, before dropping it in the ballot box in the KMC office. 

Anonymous voting has taken a beating as the envelope, ballot paper and declaration form all contain the same number, making it easy for the officer to identify the sender, Gubbi said.

Many doctors from prominent hospitals in the City have also not received the ballot papers. Dr Shashidhar Buggi of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases said he and many other doctors in the institute had not received the papers. Similarly, Dr H Paramesh, president of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association and Dr H Satishchandra, medical superintendent, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, are also among those not receiving the ballot papers. 

The council has so far received 4,200 ballot papers, including 3,000 from non-teaching category.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 26th August, 2011; along with Poornima Nataraj)

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