A total of 3,32,131 people in Bangalore have been denied the right to vote in the upcoming Assembly elections.

It seems they primarily belong to the minority communities and economically weaker sections.

If they want to re-enlist online, they will have to pay Rs 10 each. If all the unlisted voters do this, it will amount to a total of Rs. 33.2 lakh paid by the ‘ghost’ electorate to the Government.

When asked if the amount will be written off by the Government, Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha refused to comment.

Some of the constituencies where the number of deletions of names are more than 20,000 include Gandhinagar , Chickpet, Sarvagnanagar, Vijaynagar, Basavanagudi, Padmanabhanagar and BTM Layout.

Former mayor P.R. Ramesh sparked off anger when he revealed that one constituency, Chickpet, had 42,000 fewer voters. He had acquired data on all the constituencies via a Right to Information (RTI) request. Following this, the Election Commission initiated an investigation.

S.M. Ayub, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said: “About 15,000 minorities’ names out of a total of 29,000 were deleted from the electoral roll in my constituency alone this year. We filed a complaint with the Election Commission and now we are on a door-to-door campaign to tell people that they will be asked to register themselves for voter IDs.”

Individuals wanting to make changes in the details in their cards need apply online. They will have to visit an eSeva centre where they will have to pay a nominal fee of Rs 10. While the rest of the job is done online, all the individual has to do is go and collect the ID.

However, those who do not have easy access to Internet will have to spend more as they not only have to get the forms from the nearest office but also pay for postal services.

Abdul Karim, 53, a bedding merchant at Chickpet, said: “Currently, I do not have a voter ID card. Every time the Government changes, they bring new laws. I do not know why my name is not there in the electoral list this year. I received my aadhaar card, my name got deleted.”

When they were asked why the names had been deleted, individuals working at the poll booths said the details in the cards were either changed or not provided properly or did not exist and so they were asked to remove their names.

Afzal, 25, a gas mechanic at Kalasipalaya, said: “How can they remove the name from the electoral list? I do not understand why they tell that us that it is mandatory to have the aadhaar card for us to vote. They say that as we don’t have the aadhaar cards, our names have been deleted from the list.”

(Hansa is a student of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore.)

(This article was published on April 28, 2013)
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