Bengaluru: While voters of Bengaluru, especially the IT crowd, were mocked for low voting turnout in the Lok Sabha election, thousands of eligible voters were shocked as they found that their names were missing from the electoral rolls.
Now, after several people complained about this, the State Election Commission has ordered an inquiry into the deletion of names. Hundreds of people had complained that their names were deleted for no reason and that they had to return from the polling booths disappointed as they could not vote last Thursday during phase-1 of voting in Karnataka.
Reacting on the issue, Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar yesterday said that mass indiscriminate deletion of names from the voters’ list has not happened as alleged by the BJP. The State BJP unit on Thursday wrote to the Election Commission alleging that some officials were working as agents of the coalition government. The BJP is also contemplating filing a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court.
Speaking to presspersons here, Sanjiv Kumar said: “It is absolutely wrong to say that mass indiscriminate deletion of names had taken place from the voters’ list in Bengaluru’s three Constituencies.” The city Constituencies recorded low turnout compared to the rest in the State.
“We have ordered an inquiry. But prima facie, there is no summary deletion done this year. Every deletion is covered by an application and inquiry,” he said. “My office had given the electoral roll of Jan. 16 to political parties and many names had been deleted and added in that list owing to change/shift in residences of voters. We had given the latest list of voters prepared in March to only contesting candidates,” he said.
Although many only complained about missing names, the issue was brought to the Election Commission’s notice by P.S. Prahallad, who teaches Sanskrit and English in a private college in Bengaluru. Based on his complaint, the CEO’s office directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner, who is also the Bengaluru District Election Officer, to look into the issue and submit a report within a week.
BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunatha Prasad however said no names were deleted without following proper procedure. The voters’ list revision was done strictly as per the directions of the EC, and booth-level officers went to each house to collect details while revising the voters’ list, he claimed.
Sanjiv Kumar said people who change houses believe that if they have voted earlier at a particular booth, their names will still be there on the list. But if the new occupants give a statement that the person does not live there, such names are deleted after due inquiry. “People must take the initiative to check before polls and file application to add their names,” he added.
In his petition, Prahallad expressed apprehension that over 1,50,000 names had been deleted from the voters list in Bengaluru and adversely affecting the prospects of a particular political party. In his complaint, he alleged that the deletions were made after targeting those voters known to be voting for candidates from that party. “This is not in the right spirit. It is a very serious issue and there needs to be detailed probe to find out the reasons for deletion of names and how it has been done so that such things do not happen,” he said.