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Henceforth, we’ll focus more on voter addition than deletion: Nitin Gadre

Saturday, 26 April 2014 - 8:00am IST | Agency: dna

Despite Election Commissioner of India HS Brahma calling the deletions in electoral rolls in Maharashtra "unfortunate" and issued "an apology", chief electoral officer of Maharashtra Nitin Gadre remained defensive, saying due process was followed and the commission has record of each and every deletion. In an interview to dna's Naziya Alvi Rahman, he maintained that in the upcoming state elections in October the EC would focus more on additions than deletions. Excerpts:

There were reports that 2 lakh names were missing from voters' list in Mumbai. How do you respond to it?
We do not have any figure for missing voters. The deletions, however, were done six months ago as per the legal process. The revised lists were given to all political parties. Suitable publicity was given at local levels by district collectors and the new lists have been available on the state election commission website for the past six months. We had repeatedly asked voters to check their names in the list much prior to the sealing of the voters' list.

What do you think went wrong?
I cannot comment on individual cases. There is provision in law to appeal and check the deletion record. For every deletion, the collector office has records that will establish why a particular deletion took place.

If the fault is found to be at the EC's end, can we expect re-polling or action against the defaulting officer? Does the People's Representation Act has any provision for that?
There is a provision for holding erring officers accountable but only if they are found guilty. As for now this question is hypothetical and can only be answered after the appeals are being filed.

Overall turnout in Mumbai showed a significant increase in this poll. Are you satisfied with the way polling was conducted in the city?
I am not here to feel satisfied or unsatisfied. I am a government officer who was assigned the job to conduct elections which I did as per prescribed rules and law. It is for the people to decide whether they want to come out and vote or not.

You have state elections coming up in next few months. What lesson has your department learned from the Lok Sabha polls?
The rolls will be reopened for the people to enroll once the Lok Sabha poll results are out. In this phase, deletions would not be our focus but it would be adding more and more voters for the state elections. I would also like to appeal to the voters to check their names in the electoral roles at least two months prior to the polls so that in case of any discrepancy the error can be rectified in time. The electoral list is sealed close to 25 days before the polling day, which is the last day of nominations.

Will your department carry an extensive drive to create awareness and bring out people to register before the state elections?
I don't have enough manpower to bring out people for registration. They should come out and do that on their own. As for creating awareness, we have done that in the past and will do in future too.

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