The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay ducks poll roll blame

Bhopal, March 9: Digvijay Singh shrugged off the Election Commission’s rap for overlooking “bunglings” in the state’s electoral rolls, attributing the irregularities to “printing mistakes”.

“It must be understood that printing of the voters’ lists was got done by the Election Commission. This is something over which the state government has no control,” the chief minister said in Bhopal today. Madhya Pradesh is scheduled to go to polls in November.

He said the printing mistakes might have occurred as contracts were given, in some cases, to those ill-equipped to handle the job. As a result, some lists were printed in haste and this may have led to the errors, he said.

“Even the BJP is not complaining that there are mistakes or errors in the original draft voters’ lists (prepared by hand),” Digvijay said.

The chief minister challenged anyone to prove the lists omitted any voter whose name should have been on them or they contained some name that should not have been there.

The poll panel has asked the chief minister to transfer 10 collectors-cum-district election officers and deputy district election officers who did not follow its instructions to verify the electoral lists. The officers are from Jabalpur, Dhindori, Katni, Damohand and Narsingpur.

Nirvachan Sadan has also written to the state government, urging it to initiate departmental proceedings against them.

The state BJP demanded that the state government suspend the 10 officials without any further delay. “It did not behove chief minister Digvijay Singh to say that the Election Commission’s recommendations against these officials were harsh,” state party chief Kailash Joshi said.

Digvijay has been crowing that elections are won “not on the basis of development work but due to poll management”, Joshi said. “This time his tactics have been exposed much before the Assembly elections.”

But the chief minister trashed the claim. “How can having voters’ lists full of printing mistakes be part of any person’s election management'” Digvijay asked, stating that no one should be under the illusion that the errors were committed deliberately at the instance of the state government.

The commission had asked the state’s chief electoral officer to review the electoral rolls of every district after discrepancies appeared in the draft published on December 26 for 11 districts and, then, in another list published on January 20 for 34 districts.

Last May, the commission had ordered an intensive revision of electoral rolls in the state, including a house-to-house survey. On the basis of a preliminary list, the draft electoral rolls were published inviting claims and objections.

After a barrage of complaints from various political parties, the commission directed the state’s electoral officer to review the draft electoral rolls. The state government, however, chose to ignore the commission’s directive.

Enthused by the indictment of the Madhya Pradesh government, senior BJP leader Uma Bharti — who hails from the state — met deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and expressed her satisfaction with the commission’s decision.

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