Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ahmedabad polls: Demand for judicial investigation into "deliberate" attempt to distort voters' list

SEC chairman Varesh Sinha
By Our Representative
The National Alliance f Peoples Movements (NAPM) has sought judicial investigation for what it has termed as “deliberate deletion of voters’ names in recent municipal corporation elections in Gujarat, especially in Ahmedabad. Seeking re-polling to be declared at booths of those voters whose names were marked “delete” in the voter list, it has said, this is necessary for “upholding” the spirit of “free and fair elections”.
As already reported, as many as 1.03 lakh voters in Ahmedabad alone found their names marked as “deleted” from the voters’ list within two days. Wanting to rectify this for the sake of “fundamental need of a healthy democracy”, the NAPM said, “The way the elections for six municipal corporations that took place were handled have raised serious concerns about the Non-partisan functioning of the State Election Commission (SEC) at all levels.”
NAPM, which is the apex body of tens of mass organizations across India, including Gujarat, said, “We have already brought your attention that the local body elections in Gujarat are being organized in a most hurried and non-transparent way, and in an ill-prepared manner. The SEC has failed or chosen to ignore this very fundamental of election process.”
“Thousands of voters were left to go from pillar to post to exercise their Right to Vote, when the Voters list provided to the presiding officers and polling staff were stamped with stamps of ‘deleted’ in several thousand cases”, NAPM’s Krishnakant, who is with the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, said in a letter to Varesh Sinha, chairman, SEC.
“It is a known procedure that there is a cut-off date for updated voters’ list. However, in this case there were deliberate attempts made on the updated voters’ list by stamping ‘delete’ voters’ list provided to the polling staff”, said NAPM, adding, “This smacks of deeper conspiracy within the State Election Commission. Complaints related to stamping on the voters list were wide spread, especially in Ahmedabad and Surat.”
“The SEC and the district administration’s response seemed to be deliberately delayed”, Krishnakant said, adding, “The polling staff was never apprised through a proper channel to allow such voters who held a valid voter ID card, but their names were found stamped as deleted. Even the case of e-voting was a big blunder that is not expected of a well prepared State Election Commission.”
Based on this, NAPM demanded, “a judicial committee be set up to investigate into this deliberate attempt to distort the voters list provided to the polling staff and there by curtailing right of voters”, adding, “All the voters’ lists provided to the polling staff to be immediately taken into safe custody as evidences and not tampered with.”
Seeking re-polling to be declared in such booths were “irregularities” pertaining to voters’ list are found or complaints received”, said Krishnakant, adding, “E-voters who could not cast their vote due to technical glitches, be given an chance to vote, and investigation should also be taken up “for the disastrous failure of e-voting.”
Wanting the SEC not to repeat the “lapses should be plugged for the upcoming district and taluka panchayat and nagarpalika elections”, Krishnakant said, “We urge the SEC to uphold the values that we as citizens of democratic republic strive to strengthen. It is important that we not only talk of democracy but also behave so” in “a non-partisan” manner.
Meanwhile, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, has said, in a letter to the Election Commission of India, to clarify the reported allegation by the SEC that its voters’ list was based on the list provided by the ECI. “We have approached you to give this matter your personal and prompt attention”, the PUCL’s letter to chief election commissioner Dr Nasim Zaidi said.

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