The Bombay high court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the estimated 2 lakh names missing from the voters' list across Mumbai and is likely to order a probe into the matter.
Mumbai recorded its highest voter turnout (52.6 per cent) since 1991 in the Lok Sabha polls held in the city on Thursday. The figure was 11 per cent higher than the abysmal 41.4 per cent turnout in 2009. The surge in voting percentage could have been greater had about 2 lakh citizens from the city not found their names missing from the voters' list.
The Election Commission on Friday admitted that it was at fault and that voter apathy alone cannot be blamed. "I must apologise and regret that the names of such a large number of voters have not been found on the list. It's a very, very massive operational mistake which should not have happened," said Election Commissioner HS Brahma. "This is some lapse on our part. We should acknowledge it and rectify the defect."
The chief electoral officer of Maharashtra, Nitin Gadre, however, said due process was followed and that the commission has records of every deletion. "The deletions were done six months ago as per the legal process... the new lists have been available on the state election website for the past six months. We had repeatedly asked voters to check the names on the list prior to sealing the voter list," he told dna, adding that he does not have the exact figure of names missing from the voters' list.
While Brahma assured that the mistake would be rectified, Gadre says voters must check their names in the electoral rolls at least two months before elections. Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Maharashtra in October.
The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance is not impressed and blames the Election Commission for the goof-up. Senior leaders in the alliance are mulling lodging an FIR against the concerned poll officials and are also planning to meet the election commissioner to draw his attention to the matter.
MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar alleged it was a conspiracy hatched by the Congress-NCP combine, but chief minister Prithviraj Chavan rubbished the claim. "If you are boarding an international flight, you re-check your reservation 24 hours earlier. Couldn't you get your secretary to check whether or not your name is there on the list a week or four days in advance? I can understand if slum-dwellers complain, but why should corporates complain that their names are missing? They have been just careless," he said.
Complaints poured in from hundreds of localities in Mumbai's North, South, North-Central, North-East and South-Central constituencies about missing names in the voters' list. A large number of voters, including noted personalities like HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh and lawyer Ram Jethmalani, had to return disappointed from polling booths after officials refused to entertain them, saying their names were not on the list.
—With agency inputs