The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
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EC sorry, CM fires plane salvo at high-fliers

Mumbai, April 25: The Election Commission today apologised for the large number of names missing from voters’ lists in Mumbai, where prominent figures such as Deepak Parekh and Ram Jethmalani were among thousands who could not vote yesterday.

“I must apologise and regret that the names of such a large number of our voters have not been found in the list. It’s a very, very massive operational mistake which should not have happened,” election commissioner H.S. Brahma said in Delhi, according to PTI. “This is some lapse on our part. We should acknowledge it and try to rectify the defect,” he added.

The Opposition parties in Maharashtra cried foul, threatening to move court against what they saw as a “conspiracy”.

Chief minister Chavan promised to take up the matter with the commission but backed the poll panel.

“I can understand if slum-dwellers fail to notice the EC drives and newspaper advertisements, but how can a corporate executive say that he was not aware? It was easily possible to check the voter lists on the EC website and update the information,” Chavan said. “If you are boarding an international flight, you recheck your reservation 24 hours earlier,” he added.

BJP state unit president Devendra Fadnavis claimed the missing names were largely those of traditional Shiv Sena-BJP voters. The party’s candidate for Mumbai North East, Kirit Somaiya, filed a case of criminal negligence against Election Commission officials for deleting names of genuine voters.

Ally Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena called a meeting of senior leaders from the BJP, RPI, and other partners and said the alliance would petition the Central Election Commission.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA and candidate from Mumbai South, Bala Nandgaonkar, demanded a CBI probe and alleged a “Congress-NCP” conspiracy.

Aam Aadmi Party candidate and social activist Medha Patkar wanted supplementary polling. “The Election Commission should immediately order a probe and invite complaints from people. If possible, they should do supplementary polling before May 16 for genuine voters whose names were missing and could not cast their votes,” said Patkar, who is making her debut in electoral politics.

State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre also joined the chorus to request chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to call an all-party meeting on the issue.

However, Election Commission officials in Mumbai put the onus on voters and pointed out that revision of electoral rolls had been going on in the state since January 2013.

Compared to other states, Maharashtra had a poor percentage of voter registration with photographs and also had a large number of names on voter lists of people who had died or had moved residence. A total of 71.75 lakh names were deleted, including about 14.06 names from Mumbai and its suburbs.

“Those who did not bother despite our advertisements asking voters to check the voter lists discovered on the day of voting that their names are missing. They have only themselves to blame,” said a senior official who requested not to be named. “Those who responded, their data was updated.”