Mumbai (The Hindu): SEC draws flak after 11 lakh names go missing from the voters’ list. In the run-up to the municipal elections of 2017, NGOs, citizens’groups, and the State Election Commission (SEC) campaigned hard to encourage eligible voters to walk to the polling both and cast their ballot.
However, all that hard work came to nought on Tuesday when polling centres around the city witnessed pandemonium because 11 lakh names were missing from the voters’ list compared to 2012 figures. Overall voting went up from 44.75% in 2012 to 55% in 2017, with the number jumping from 45.64 lakh to 50.49 lakh voters.
The SEC claimed the voters’ list was made available by the Central Election Commission (CEC). However, this did not cut any ice with political parties. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Yogesh Sagar from Malad said it was “irresponsible” and “bad planning” on part of the SEC.
“The Election Commission is such an important body in a democracy. But after this, we feel a dedicated private agency should be hired to create voters’ lists to avoid such goofs,” said Mr. Sagar, adding hundreds of voters were left in the lurch in his constituency and many had to spend over three hours to figure out where to vote.
Another BJP MLA Parag Alawni from Vile Parle alleged that the EC seems to have put all its focus on restricting candidates from campaigning, and that when it came to the real task, it failed miserably. “At every election, we see new people on duty, and this leads to mismanagement. We need dedicated staff to ensure continuity for all elections.”
Congress Party’s city chief Sanjay Nirupam said it was a complete failure on part of BMC officials who prepared the electoral rolls. “This is the same BMC that has been controlled by the Shiv Sena for 20 years,” he said. “I believe the chaos was planned at the behest of Shiv Sena as many middle-class voters’ names were missing,” said Mr. Nirupam.
He added, “At least 30% per cent of the names were missing.” Citing an example, he said that at Charkop (in Kandivali), voter lists were swapped completely. “The names of 1200 voters from Manihar Chawl from Ward No 31 were put in Ward No 20’s list. Similarly, the names of 1700 voters from KD Compound in Ward No 20 were put in Ward No 31. Volunteers then managed to sort out the issue.”
Shiv Sena’s Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) Anil Parab said, “Election Commission employees had cancelled names of voters residing in buildings which went for redevelopment or for the slum rehabilitation programme. I had even pointed out the error to the Commission, but it was not rectified.” He said that this error should be investigated thoroughly.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), too, was critical of the SEC. Clyde Castro, spokesperson, Mumbai NCP said, “Voting is a fundamental right of every citizen. Things like these cannot be neglected. In fact, it should have never happened.” He said similar instances were observed even during the 2014 Assembly polls, and we had expected that the errors will have been taken care of.”
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