Laxity thy name is Jharkhand.
On the eve of Ranchi’s toughest test of democracy, more than 5,000 legitimate voters — including doctors, lawyers and judges — have realised that their names are missing from the electoral rolls of the constituency because the district administration relegated a crucial responsibility to an arguably incompetent agency.
All these people have valid voter IDs and responsibly filled up the mandatory Form 6 for inclusion of names during registration drives. And yet, they won’t be allowed to exercise their franchise on Thursday.
SDM Amit Kumar conceded the lacunae in voter lists, which were last updated a week ago. “It is indeed a disappointing matter that names have been left out in bulk. The updating task, after documents were duly verified, was given to Command Consultancy. Negligence on the part of the agency will deprive 5,543 voters of their rights tomorrow,” he said.
Sources in the Ranchi district election office said the responsibility of collecting Form 6 and verifying documents lay with booth-level officers (BLOs) and facilitators, exclusively engaged for the work. “However, uploading names was the job of the private agency,” a source underscored.
Among the disgruntled voters are three judges — Justice Prashant Kumar, Justice H.C. Mishra and Justice Amitabh Kumar Gupta. Also on the deprived list are advocates of Jharkhand High Court.
“My wife and I both have voter IDs. But, our names are missing from the list. We had contacted our BLO who expressed his helplessness,” said Ashish Jha, a lawyer and resident of Ashok Nagar in the capital.
Senior citizens from Ashok Vihar Suresh Chandra Mishra and wife Manorama are perplexed over the gaffe. “Our names were there on the list during the 2009 elections. We had cast our votes too. It is so surprising that this time our names have been omitted. We met the BLO and submitted necessary documents along with the Form 6. But see, we can’t vote tomorrow,” Mishra sounded disappointed.
Calcutta-headquartered Command Consultancy also has an office in Ranchi. Sharat Pandey, in-charge of the local circle, said they were strictly instructed to update only those names that were received till March 15. “So, those received after March 16 were not included on the list.”