New EPICs to
be issued on January 25
The next time there is an election in the Bidhannagar constituency, an elector’s photo identity card (EPIC) will be the only proof of identity that will be accepted. “We are working towards cent per cent EPIC coverage so that the next election may be a no EPIC-no poll one,” said Malay Mukhopadhaya, sub-divisional officer who is the electoral registration officer for Bidhannagar.
If you have applied for inclusion or revision of your name in the electoral roll, reach your local polling booth at noon on January 25. The day, observed as National Voters’ Day, is when the new elector’s photo identity card (EPIC) will be handed over.
“New EPICs will be distributed from all 273 polling stations across the Bidhannagar Assembly constituency,” said Mukhopadhaya.
In this round of revision of electoral rolls, a significant achievement has been the high percentage of enrolment of women voters. This time of the 7,595 Form 6 applications that have been accepted, 4,035 are from women, which is higher than the 3,560 applications from men. The ratio is usually the other way round. “Many women, we have found, get married and do not apply for fresh enlistment in the locality of their new homes. We had put emphasis on enrolling women this time,” said Mukhopadhaya.
No new NRI electors
What has raised eyebrows is the lack of interest of non-resident Indians. Barely 26 Form 6A applications were submitted and not a single one could be accepted. “All the forms were either incomplete or not supported by documents. So they had to be rejected outright. This is strange given that people of Salt Lake are well-educated,” he said, wondering if lack of awareness was a reason for the apathy (see box).
Of the 519 applications received for deletion of names, only 72 were accepted. “We have to be careful with deletions as these applications are often politically motivated. Sometimes they are also results of landlord-tenant disputes.” A total of 1031 Form 8 applications have been accepted for effecting corrections in the EPIC.
The revision will result in a net increase of 7,523 in the total number of voters in the Bidhannagar constituency. From 1,99,185 voters in the draft list the total number now stands at 2,06,708.
This figure will change again once the remaining forms are processed. “For the first time, we had sent booth level officers on a door-to-door drive for a foolproof check of the voter list. They have come back with more than 4,000 forms.”
The hearings on these applications are on and will continue till January 17.
Contests mark run-up to National Voters’ Day
The Election Commission had tried to educate students about the voting procedure by organising a quiz for them, but seven out of the 10 invited schools failed to show up. Some of the youths who turned up complained the questions were “out of syllabus” and one even walked off refusing to take part.
The quiz was held at the Bidhannagar Subdivision Office in DJ Block on January 4 and the three participating schools were Hariyana Vidya Mandir (HVM), Mother International School (MIS) and Begum Rokeya Balika Vidyalaya (BRBV). “We had invited 10 Salt Lake schools but most are busy with their sports day. Our aim is to generate awareness among our soon-to-be first-time voters,” said deputy magistrate Rana Biswas, who was in charge of the event.
Given the limited number of schools, the quiz was an individual and not a team event. “I’m a political science student and had prepared from my text book but the questions were out of our syllabus,” said Meghna Sahu and N. Parveen Mondal, Class XI students of CL Block’s MIS.
CJ Block’s BRBV had sent two students to participate in what they thought was a general knowledge quiz. “My friend got furious when she learnt that it was a quiz on the political system and left without participating,” said Anusree Saha who stood second. “I discuss current affairs with my parents. That helped,” she said. The girl was particularly proud of herself for knowing who had been a governor, an MLA and an MP. “It was Siddhartha Shankar Ray. I had read this in his obituary.” The winner was Soumyadeep Guha of HVM, a commerce student who said he read newspapers daily.
There was also a slogan-writing contest on the theme “My vote, my right, my vote my might.” All but a few HVM students shied away from it. Shovan Sinha Roy, 17, who used to accompany his parents to the polling booth as a child to get his finger inked, wrote: “I might accept you or reject you without any doubt, but it is my voice and I will shout.”
The winner of this contest, to be named later, will compete at the district level on January 14. The district winners will be felicitated on January 26 after a parade in Salt Lake, culminating at Central Park .
A STAFF REPORTER