A prominent NGO on Friday demanded repoll in all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra following an apology tendered by Election Commissioner HS Brahma and his admitting to lapses leading to deletion or diversion of names of over six million voters in the state.
"Merely apologizing is not sufficient. It is like rubbing salt on the wounds of the six million-plus citizens who were denied their fundamental right to vote. The EC must compensate by ordering a complete repolling in the 48 Lok Sabha seats and sacking all the electoral officials concerned here, including Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Gadre," an agitated Kishore Tiwari, chief of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, told IANS.
"This is a lapse of monumental magnitude... The blunders by the state election department can have a major impact on the outcome of the 2014 elections," Tiwari said. IANS had on April 19 first highlighted the issue of the six million-plus voters' names, which sparked off a furore among voters, candidates, political parties and officials.
Reacting to the EC apology, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said: "The state government would take up the issue with the Chief Election Commissioner (V.S. Sampath)." Earlier, Chavan had indirectly blamed the people for not checking voters' list well in advance to ensure if their names were there.
"... People check on their flight and train ticket status, they could have easily checked the voters' lists," Chavan commented, obviously referring to some prominent people like HDFC's Deepak Parekh, adman Bharat Dabholkar, actors Amol Palekar and Atul Kulkarni and lakhs of others whose names were missing from the electoral rolls.
Brahma assured the missing names would be included before the Maharashtra assembly elections later this year. Tiwari said if Brahma had considered the issue highlighted April 19 - well before the polls - then at least two million voters would have got the opportunity to vote.
State Bharatiya Janata Party chief Devendra Fadnavis, reacting to the EC apology, told a private news channel there were "gross irregularities" in the working of the election officials which led to the fracas.
"There have been reports that the private BPOs entrusted with the work of electoral rolls revision, are charging money for selective deletions which can benefit a particular political party," Fadnavis said, adding he has complained several times to the EC authorities.