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Was there selective cleansing of Bangalore electoral roles?

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Governance

That's in effect what Justice M F Saldanha (Retd), Chairman – Karnataka Chapter, Trnasparency International India, is alleging. His letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Karnataka, is reproduced below:

The 1st phase of voting was undertaken in Bangalore City on 23 April 2009. This year the consciousness levels were abnormally high and both individuals and organizations over the last six months had taken the trouble to ensure that every singly eligible voter was duly represented in the electoral rolls. In my own case I  personally ensured that all the requisite procedures were complied with and completed within the prescribed time. Despite this when we reached the Polling Booth No. 5 yesterday the name of Domingo’s Region Fernandes was missing from the electoral roll. This man is permanently resident at my flat as he works for me and has voted at all the earlier elections.

Since 7.30 a.m. yesterday I received over 100 calls from citizens all over the city complaining that their names have been selectively  deleted  from the electoral rolls. Every single one of them stated that they have complied with all the formalities and it is their charge that the names have been deliberately removed at the stage of the final printing.  

I spent about four hours at the polling booth Nos.4,5 & 6 and I desire to record something serious that has taken place at this centre:

a) It is not correct to state that the voter turnout in the city was poor. I have seen several elections and between 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. there was a heavy continuous stream of persons arriving to cast their votes. This was the case all through the day.  Unfortunately as many as 2 to 3 out of every five persons found their names missing. The situation was unpleasant because all of them insisted that they had complied with all the requirements and they alleged that because they belonged to the minority community or to sections of society who would not be supporting the BJP that their names have been removed. There is considerable substance in this charge because the absence of  names follows the very pattern that is being complained about. For instance, in a family group just one or two names are present and all the remaining members of the household have been deleted. In other instances wholesale deletion has taken place principally because the names are easily identifiable such as persons belonging to the Christian and Muslim community. The reason why I spent considerable time doing an on the spot analysis was because I wanted to check the facts very carefully and I find that the charge is fully substantiated.

b) There was a lot of movement around this centre because the candidates and their representatives were continuously moving between the various polling centers in Bangalore and all of them told me that the aforesaid pattern was common at all the polling centers in Bangalore City.

c) On the basis of actual figures available the voter turn out in Bangalore City was close to 100% but the report put out is that the voting was around 40%. This is because only 40% of the persons who came to vote were allowed to vote. What follows from this is extremely serious because the result that emerges will not be representative of the will of the people as over 50% of the citizens were prevented from voting.

d) THE IRRESISTABLE CONCLUSION IS THAT MORE NUMBER OF VOTERS HAVE BEEN DENIED THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS TO CAST THEIR VOTES THAN THE NUMBER WHO HAVE ACTUALLY VOTED BECAUSE OF A DEVIOUS AND CORRUPT PRACTICE THAT HAS  MANIFESTED ITSELF WHILE PRINTING THE FINAL LIST. ONE OF THE LADIES PRESENT IS WILLING TO GIVE EVIDENCE THAT SHE HAD CHECKED THE FINAL LIST, FOUND HER NAME THERE AND THAT IT HAS STILL BEEN DELETED FROM THE LIST AVAILABLE AT THE POLLING BOOTH. THERE WERE SUSPICIONS AND ALLEGATIONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT WHICH IS IN CHARGE OF THE PRINTING IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE SUCCESS OF ITS OWN CANDIDATES. THE FACTS FULLY ESTABLISH THIS CHARGE.

The irresistible conclusion is that the electoral process is vitiated abs initio by a corrupt practice amounting to FRAUD and on this ground alone the Election  Commission will have to order an enquiry and a re-poll. As a first step an immediate public notice will have to be issued in the media very prominently calling upon all those citizens whose names have been illegally deleted to bring it to the notice of the Election Commission in a duly prescribed manner and within a specified time. It is not necessary that  the number of persons complaining should be higher than or close to those who have voted because there are instances when the contest is close and even a few votes could tilt the balance. If it is found on  enquiry that a corrupt practice has occurred a re-election will have to be ordered at all the centers where the voting took place on 23 April 2009. It follows that the results of the vitiated election cannot be declared.

Please take immediate steps to proceed along the lines as set out above. If the Commission refuses to do so an order to that effect may be passed so that the aggrieved parties can move for legal redress. This may be treated as a formal demand for justice .

Yours faithfully, etc

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

silkboard's picture

big allegation

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First of all - I must quote the line that killed the post for me - "On the basis of actual figures available the voter turn out in Bangalore City was close to 100%". OH PLEASE. Please. Seriously. That one line in there ate up the seriousness and credibility that the rest of the post may have carried.

This may turn into a flame war and a challenging post for Praja moderators, but I guess the reason Moderators shouldn't delete this post is - since we hear so much about electoral roll hassles, and now alllegations of corruption, State Election Commission needs to be pressurized to share local and analytical data on

  • error rates (applied to registered to voted ratios)
  • booth wise data on applied to registered to voted ratios
  • most common reasons for error
  • volumes handled per person (to get an idea of workload involved)
  • costs incurred in the process (are these errors a result of tight cost structure within the EC)

Speaking of Voter List errors, at our residential community, there was this interesting case of enthusiastic translation where a lady's first name was converted from Uttara to North!! This may be an extreme case (though it tells you that there are workers who think elections work is a game), but the English Kannada transliteration breaks a lot of names.

PS: I love the way allegations like the one above take the BJP to minority association for granted (and thus help cement the very same thing that party might want to market about themselves. Does it?). Most of english media and the so many intellectuals are the best marketing tools that BJP or BJP-like parties can have.

psaram42's picture

Atrocious Ethnic Cleansing indeed

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 If the report is factual, as it appears on the face of it, it is atrocious to say the least. The BJP government and the election commission should be made answerable. I hope justice Saldana takes the matter to its logical end.

I would like to list some of the points I consider important:

1.      What is the redress in this case, other than declaring the polling in the booth concerned as null and void?

2.      The persons who are eligible to vote should be allowed to vote as a continuation of the poll already concluded.

3.      The deletion of names is not legal unless the person is dead. If his name is missing it must have been deleted. Just deleting is not legal if the person is not dead, in which case the name is to be included in that of the new place he has moved. The election commissioner is answerable for this kind of high handedness. Has the deletion done on the basis of a death certificate? If not deleting a name is not the answer. The name has to be moved to another constituency where the person has moved. Denying right to vote is not the prerogative of the election commissioner.

My best wishes are with Justice Saldana for succeeding in this fight

PSA.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

"Mother of all frauds" - confirmed again

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Dear All,

If it was from somebody else, I would have had a second thought about certain issues in the post.  But coming from Justice Saldhana, it makes sense and his mode of delivering justice is to the fore again. 

Ok a fraud has been committed - though it has to be proved beyond doubt - who is responsible for this debacle of democratic process?  The sword is drawn and it pointing at the election commission - how can such things happen blatantly? Does the EC possess evidence and supporting documents to delete names ab initio?

The EC is a highly respectable constitutional top heavy body and has members with tenures but with skeletal staff without accountability because they are permanent staff from government and have no accountability - and EC may not have powers to take action against such irresponsible employees -  'snake without fangs'.  This needs to be hammered again and again. 

The finding of Justice Saldhana is a highly sensitive issue and must be given due credence. EC must clarify this on priority; otherwise, motives will be adduced and a PIL is bound to bring out the skeletons in the Government's cup board that has made use of its own employees deputed for the work of finalisation of electoral list since EC does not have the staff or the wherewithals for this job.

- Time for transparency and accountability of the democratic process

- Please step in EC

-Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

 

Naveen's picture

Serious Doubt If This Is Credible

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SB is Right - Justice Saldhana is claiming near 100% attendance from voters - what a fairy tale !

In my area, I have seen how people moved up & down to get their EPIC cards done only to abstain from voting when the time came.

Further, I had earlier gone through Justice Saldhana's RTI letter to BMRC opposing the Metro where he had claimed that Monorail was a resounding success at Sydney. In reality, it has been no more than a showpiece there & is popular only as a tourist attraction as per various reports. He had obviously not researched enough & had written about it so strongly just to be argumentative, & it appears that he has repeated the same mistake again by claiming a near 100% voter turnout at the polling booths.

I would not accept any of his "theories" unless proof is produced with data such as those outlined by SB.

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