Feb. 2: The Election Commission today decided to extend the publication of the final electoral roll by a week to weed out fake voters and ensure a clean voter list before the Assembly elections.
The final list, which will see 9.89 lakh deletions and 21 lakh inclusions, will be released on February 22.
'This is the first time in recent memory that the electoral rolls have seen such a major overhaul. This has been courtesy the extra effort put in by the EC, which has sent four teams so far to monitor the roll revision process,' an official in the election office observed.
Chief electoral officer Debashish Sen said this figure is based on information received till January 24. 'There may be some minor alterations later and new voters will be photographed after February 22.'
The EC observers, on their second visit to Bengal to oversee revision of electoral rolls, today asked the administration in Murshidabad, Burdwan and North 24-Parganas to lodge FIRs against 71 people on the charge of submitting fake documents to get enrolled.
An FIR was also lodged against a primary school headmaster in Murshidabad's Domkol for supplying fake school leaving certificates.
Of the 71 persons, seven have been arrested from Gaighata in North 24-Parganas.
The EC's decision to defer the final publication of rolls follows Sen's request. He had argued that about 30 lakh names will have to be added to or deleted from the final rolls.
Sen said there were some constraints on publishing the final rolls by February 15. 'The EC appreciated our constraints and accordingly decided to defer publication,' he added.
After working out the figures for new voters and deletions, the net addition to the voter list is pegged at a little more than 11 lakh, which accounts for a 2.33 per cent rise in the voting population. The electorate now stands at 4.92 crore.
It has been found that Burdwan tops the list of deletions with 97,374 names, followed by Nadia's 94,520 and South 24- Parganas' 90,460.
The highest net increase in voters is in North Dinajpur district, followed by North 24- Parganas and Howrah. South Dinajpur has registered the lowest increase in voters.
'These figures refute allegations that there has been a massive increase of voters in border districts,' said state CPM secretary Anil Biswas.
Calcutta's voter strength was 23.94 lakh. After revision, 1.22 lakh names were included and 63,600 names deleted.
Following up on the complaints he had received during last month's visit to Murshidabad, R.K. Khandelwal instructed the administration to lodge an FIR against 39 persons and the headmaster of Mamudpur Primary School, Arun Chowdhury, in Domkol, 235 km from Calcutta.
District magistrate N. Manjunatha Prasad said the headmaster had issued fake school leaving certificates to 39 young people, including seven girls below 18 years, to help them get enrolled as voters.
'I have asked the superintendent of police to arrest the accused persons immediately,' he added.