The Telegraph
Saturday , January 25 , 2014
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New-voter count jumps

New Delhi, Jan. 24: Nearly four crore new voters will play a key role in deciding whether Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi becomes Prime Minister.

The Election Commission today said 3.9 crore new voters had enrolled during a rolls revision in the past three months. That is 4.8 per cent of the over 81 crore people expected to cast their ballot in the summer Lok Sabha elections.

Of the new voters, 1.27 crore, or around 32 per cent, are between 18 and 19 — a section being wooed by Modi, Rahul and debutant Arvind Kejriwal.

The final rolls will be published by January 31 and the figures could undergo some change, poll panel spokesperson Akshay Raut said. He, however, added that the revisions would be minor.

The latest addition of 3.9 crore voters is the biggest in three years, the commission said. The new-voter count was 2.32 crore last year, of which 93 lakh, or around 40 per cent, were aged 18 or 19.

In 2012, the number was 3.83 crore, of which 1.09 crore, or 28 per cent, were between 18 and 19.

Raut, the commission spokesperson, attributed the spurt to the panel’s awareness drives.

“The increase in enrolments is a result of the awareness initiatives taken up by the Election Commission. People are now proud and eager to enrol and vote,” he said.

Kejriwal rapped

The Election Commission has said that Kejriwal violated the model code of conduct by using religion to woo voters during the Delhi poll campaign, and cautioned him to be more careful in the future.

During the campaign, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party had distributed pamphlets on behalf of its leader that were directly addressed to the minority community.

“I urge Muslims to vote for the Aaam Aadmi Party in the upcoming Delhi elections…. For the first time Muslims have an honest and secular alternative,” the pamphlets said.

In its order today, the commission deemed the move a “prima facie” violation of the model code provision forbidding the use of religion to attract voters.

“The commission conveys its concern and cautions you to be more careful in the election campaigns of your party in future,” the poll panel order said.

The probe was delayed as Kejriwal had sought time to reply to the panel’s show-cause notice.

The commission had received the complaint on October 4 last year.