| Nadia observer Amitabh Rajan (right) with district magistrate Rajesh Pandey. Picture by Palash Debnath
Feb. 1: Nearly a lakh 'bogus' voters have been detected in Nadia alone.
Members of the 19-strong team of observers, now on the second leg of their mission to weed out such voters, arrived in their assigned destinations today. And that they have a mammoth task on hand became evident from one district.
After a meeting with Nadia observer Amitabh Rajan, district magistrate Rajesh Pandey said by February 15, when the final electoral roll would be published, the number of dead, shifted or Bangladeshi voters is expected to go past the one-lakh mark.
'We have deleted 90,000 names from the voter lists already ' the highest in the state so far,' Pandey said. Nadia has about 27 lakh voters.
About 3.5 lakh dead/shifted voters have been identified across the state so far.
The 90,000 bogus voters in Nadia were identified following an inquiry initiated by Election Commission adviser K.J. Rao last month.
Rajan reached Krishnagar this morning and met district officials to review the progress of the electoral roll revision.
'I will begin from where Mr Rao left off,' he said. Like Rao, Rajan said he will go door to door to ascertain the validity of complaints filed by political parties.
But, unlike Rao, who never disclosed his destination to the media, Rajan bared his plans. He handed to journalists his schedule for the next seven days.
The CPM reacted sharply. 'This is not done. EC (Election Commission) officials are not supposed to inform others about their movement. But some observers are doing just that. We never made public the complaints filed by our party,' said Rabin Deb, the government's chief whip.
Rao, who is overseeing the roll revision in West Midnapore this time, held a series of meetings with officials and parties. Accompanied by district magistrate D. Nariyala and Midnapore Sadar block development officer (BDO) Mohammad Kamruddin, Rao visited various pockets of Midnapore town with a list of complaints submitted to him by the Opposition parties.
Around 4.30 pm, he went to the police lines looking for voters who had been transferred.
CPM councillor Sipra Bhusan was heard requesting Rao repeatedly not to immediately delete the names of persons not found. 'There may be family members who may not have shifted,' she told Rao, who underlined about six names.
Rao also went to the Midnapore municipality to look into the death registers and the office of the food and supplies department to check out ration card records.
In Burdwan, observer Rabindranath Das met the district officials.
In Calcutta, chief electoral officer Debasish Sen said the observers for Malda, East Midnapore, Bankura and Nadia were replaced at the last moment as those earlier scheduled could not turn up because of personal reasons.
All 19 observers will submit their reports to the Election Commission on their return to Delhi. The EC will meet them on February 10 to discuss their findings.
The government has transferred the subdivisional officers of Diamond Harbour and Balurghat and suspended two Nadia schoolteachers following EC recommendations.