In the backdrop of the Election Commission's (EC) assurance that missing names from the voters' list will be probed, unions of civic employees have come out in support of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) staffers who were on the poll duty.
Two associations of employees – Municipal Karmchari Kamgar Sena (an arm of Shiv Sena) and the Municipal Mazdoor Union – have insisted that the EC should not hold BMC men responsible for the goof-up.
As reported in dna earlier, more than 7,000 civic employees were on election duty. Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai went to polls on April 24. The election, however, was marred by controversies as scores of Mumbaikars could not exercise their franchises as their names disappeared from electoral rolls. Following the large scale chaos, extent of which is yet to be ascertained, election commissioner HS Brahma has tendered an apology in this regard and promised investigation into the matter.
Reacting to the same, the two associations have written to Maharashtra's chief electoral officer Nitin Gadre, saying the BMC men performed poll duty as per instructions from their superiors in the election commission (EC).
"It is being said action will be taken against booth level employees, who are mostly BMC staffers. So, we must bring it to the EC's notice that the staffers worked as per directions from the senior officers. They did their job to the perfection. If the commission acts against the staff, then it will be unjust on their part. We will oppose the same vehemently," Ramakant Bane, assistant general secretary of the Municipal Mazdoor Union, said.
The Municipal Karmchari Kamgar Sena has pointed towards ground-level issues such as commission staff being disallowed entry inside a housing society during voters' verification rounds for the mess. "In Mumbai, the number of working couples is on higher side. So, during day time, the couples are unavailable for verification. Besides at many housing societies, security guards do not let the staff enter buildings. Illiteracy amongst slum dwellers is another factor as to why the staff doesn't get adequate information about voters. So, staffers can't be blamed entirely," Sunil Chitnis, executive president of Shiv Sena-led employees' body, claimed.
Chitnis demanded the EC to instead undertake awareness campaign and make permanent arrangements in public domain for updating voters' list for the elections to gram panchayat, assembly and Lok Sabha.
Despite repeated attempts, Gadre could not be reached for his version. A senior EC official, requesting anonymity, though said, "The issues raised by the unions will be looked into. It is true there are difficulties faced by staff at ground-level," the official said.