We were left out from voting, say many Chandigarh VIPs

May 15th, 2009 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 15 (IANS) Though the union territory of Chandigarh registered its highest turnout of voters in the last 20 years, scores of valid voters, who included a significant number of VIP residents of the city, could not exercise their franchise this Lok Sabha elections as they found their names missing from the voters’ list.

“I have been casting my vote in Chandigarh for the last 30 years. I have my own house here and never faced such a situation before. They have deleted the names of all my four family members from the voter-list,” Rajan Kashyap, former Punjab chief secretary and former chief information commissioner told IANS.

Kashyap added: “We showed them our voter identity cards and other residential proofs but it could not work. I even wrote to the advisor to the administrator, who is also the chief electoral officer but he did not give me any explanation.”

One of the reasons being extended now by election department officials is that when the voters’ lists were revised last year, the names of people who were not at home when revision officials visited their houses, were deleted.

Chandigarh saw a polling percentage of over 65 percent, much higher than the polling percentage of 52 percent in the 2004 general elections.

Over 340,000 of the 522,650 voters in the union territory of Chandigarh came out of their homes for Wednesday’s polling.

Panjab University Vice Chancellor R.C. Sobti was among the unlucky ones who had to return from the polling station without casting his vote despite having a voter I-card.

Sobti told IANS: “It is really sad and disappointing if anyone is deprived of his basic right of voting due to some easily avoidable clerical mistake or other negligence. I have been exercising my right of vote in Chandigarh for over last 20 years but this time my name was missing.”

“The election officials sitting there were clueless and did not have anything to say. I had submitted a written complaint regarding this,” said Sobti.

Angrez Singh, 70, president of Pind Bachao Committee (Save Villages Committee), whose name was also deleted from the list said: “I am casting my vote for the last 50 years. They even came to my house for verification and issued a voter card to me and my wife.”

“A criminal case should be filed against those officials who are guilty of all this confusion,” said Singh, who is also very active in politics here.

R.K. Rao, returning officer and deputy commissioner, Chandigarh, told IANS: “Such things can happen but we are taking this issue very seriously. In the coming days, we will make a revised list and include all those names that were left out this time. Elections are over and now nobody can do anything but this revised list will certainly help us in future.”

“In 2008, our officials conducted door-to-door campaigns for the verification of the electorates. During this process, the names of those people were removed whose details could not be verified after our repeated attempts. This number was nearly 50,000,” Rao aid.

He added: “However, we ran a series of advertisements to motivate people to come to election office to check their names on the voting list. Over 40,000 people came to us and their names were again included but I think that still there are some people who have been left out.”

A senior official of the election department, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS: “Nearly 10 percent of eligible voters could not vote this time. Some 1,500 names were missing from the voter list of Panjab University campus and PGI (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) alone.”

There were 14 contestants in the fray for the lone Chandigarh seat and the main contest was between Congress party’s Pawan Kumar Bansal and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Satya Pal Jain.

Jain told IANS: “Right from the beginning I have been saying that there are serious discrepancies in the voters’ list but nobody listened to me. I am afraid that this could be a result of a planned conspiracy of some anti-social elements. So we demand a proper inquiry into this issue.”

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