In a shocking revelation that could impact election results, the names of nearly six million voters have been deleted or diverted across Maharashtra.
The deletion was done mainly because the voters were currently not residing in the area in which they were originally registered, a state election commission official said here Saturday on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile state chief electoral officer Nitin Gadre told IANS: "These are not missing names. The deletions were done six months ago as per the legal process."
Gadre said the revised lists were given to all political parties with suitable publicity at local levels by district collectors and the new lists have been available on the state election commission website for the past six months. Among the names deleted are those of new and potential first-time voters in the state's 48 constituencies as they are presently not residents in their respective areas of voting.
The issue came to the fore after there were a large number of complaints of names 'missing' from voters lists in places like Nagpur, Amravati and recently Pune, irking candidates of all major political parties who also protested or complained about it. The state Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that around 100,000 voters' names have been deleted from Pune and as many new voters from other areas have been added to that constituency. A BJP delegation called on the election authorities Saturday and demanded fresh election in Pune.
Among those whose names are missing is Bollywood actor-producer-director Amol Palekar, who lodged a 'missing name' complaint with Pune police Saturday. His complaint has been forwarded to the state poll panel for further action, an official said. There were also reports of voters' names missing from Aurangabad, Ratnagiri and Thane, but poll panel officials denied it. Of the state's 11.76 crore population, the total current voter strength is around 8.06 crore, the rest being minors.
In the final phase of polling for 19 Lok Sabha seats scheduled for April 24, around 3.17 crore voters are eligible to cast their vote. However, it was not known how many names from these may have been deleted or diverted from their respective constituencies.
Official sources claimed the work of preparing electoral rolls was reportedly entrusted to a private company but state poll panel officials declined to name or blame the company for the alleged goof up.