Jammu: Congress leader and Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is contesting for the first time from Jammu and Kashmir, was up for a surprise Thursday as he was asked by a polling officer here to prove his identity to cast vote after the senior Congress leader failed to furnish his voter card.
The minister exercised his franchise after a local Congress leader came to his rescue and stood as guaranteer for him.
Flanked by some Congress leaders, Azad, who asked for his ballot at Jogigate-F polling station at DPS school here was asked by the Presiding Officer to produce the voter’s identity card or valid identity proof, a senior official of JK Election department told PTI.
The officer, however, made it clear to Azad that he knew him by face but needed to be sure of his being a registered voter at the polling station, he said adding officer acted as per the EC rules.
As the Union minister failed to produce his photo identity card or the EPIC, Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma stood as surety for Azad’s identity.
The polling agents of other parties including BJP did not object to Azad’s exercising his franchising, who later cast his vote.
Later, when reporters asked Azad about the incident, he said, “There are tough measures taken by the Election Commission of India (ECI) this time to ensure free and fair polling. Such strong measures were not seen in the past”.
Azad is trying his luck from Udhampur Lok Sabha seat.
Azad was elected MP from Maharashtra’s Washim Lok Sabha constituency in 1980. He was again elected to Lok Sabha in 1984.