Hyderabad: Telangana chief electoral officer Rajat Kumar on Monday conceded that about 2.2 million names have been removed from the rolls since the 2014 elections in the state. This has added credence to the claims of the Congress, which has said that lakhs of names have been deleted from the electoral rolls.
Kumar, however, said that the reasons behind it could be many and added that he cannot come to any conclusion on the issue at this time.
“Yes, if you are looking at the 2014 assembly elections, there were roughly about 2.83 crore voters back then and as of now there about 2.61 crore. The number of voters on the draft rolls have come down," Kumar said at a press conference.
Names were also deleted from the rolls in 2015 when Aadhaar-based verification was done, till a Supreme Court judgement on the usage of Aadhaar cards put a stop to it, Kumar said.
“A new software has been put in place as well and there could be other reasons also behind the deletion of names. There are people living here who have chosen to exercise their voting rights in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. There could be multiple reasons," said Kumar.
Former MLA and senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy, who has taken up the issue, has alleged that about 3 million names had been deleted by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which was ruling till the assembly was dissolved on 6 September, in nexus with the Election Commission.
The Congress has approached the Supreme Court and is expecting its petition to be heard soon, Reddy said at a press conference on Monday.
“This large-scale number of deletions is very unusual and the Election Commission must explain this," said Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, an RTI campaigner. “Across the country the number of voters goes up every elections, given that India’s population goes up every year. Even if it has been done going by the rule book, those whose names have been deleted must be informed," said the campaigner, who also runs the public information portal www.factly.in.
Kumar, at his press conference, also said that the number of electronic voting machines required for the upcoming Assembly elections have arrived in Telangana.
Elections in the state, which were earlier slated to be held in 2019, have been advanced and are expected to be held in the coming few months as TRS chief K. Chandrashekar Rao, who was chief minister at that time dissolved the Assembly on 6 September citing “political fragility".