Hyderabad: Polling day in Telangana ended with scores of people from across the state complaining about their names being deleted from the electoral rolls. The issue adds credence to the allegation by the Congress and activists that the Election Commission and state government deleted over 22 lakh names from the electoral rolls between 2015 and 2018, without informing voters. Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar accepted that many voters could indeed not exercise their right and said that a mistake had been made for which he apologised to the public.
Addressing a press conference on friday evening, Kumar said that the election commission would look into the matter and take up revision of rolls aggressively next month for the 2019 lok sabha elections. In an earlier press conference in September, Kumar conceded that over 22 lakh names were deleted, but did not give a clear explanation for the same. The CEO then said that there were roughly about 2.83 crore voters back then and in September there were about 2.61 crore.
“It was a major mistake. I apologise to the people personally. Many people I know personally told me they could vote. There has been an apparent mistake," said Kumar at the press conference on Friday evening. He added that notices should be sent to all the people whose name are deleted from the electoral rolls. After polling concluded on Friday, about 67% of the electorate had vote, with Adilabad district recording the highest polling percentage at 76.5%, and Hyderabad witnessing about 50% polling.
Former MLA and senior Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy, who had taken up the issue of names being deleted from the rolls, had alleged earlier that about 30 lakh names had been deleted by the former Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government, which was ruling till the assembly was dissolved on 6 September, in nexus with the Election Commission.
The results for the assembly elections will be declared on 11 December along with four other poll-bound states. In this election, the caretaker chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao led Telangana Rashtra Samithi is facing an opposition alliance formed by the Congress, Telugu Desam party, Communist Party of India and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS). Rao’s party had won the 2014 polls by winning 63 seats, while the Congress won 21, TDP 15, Bharatiya Janata Party 5 and All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (and remaining others). The TRS’s numbers went to nearly 90 subsequently, thanks to large-scale defections from the opposition.
CEO Telangana responds:
In response to this report, Kumar’s office on Saturday night said that “whenever, some deletions and inclusions are made as part of voter enrolments as and when summary revision of the electoral rolls is undertaken periodically, objections under Form No.7 are invariably invited from citizens to raise objections within seven days against such deletions or inclusions.
“The electoral rolls for the just-concluded Assembly elections were updated only after such exercise, and finally they were published on November 19 with the inclusion of the supplementary list," said a press release from Kumar’s office. It added that the elector rolls, which were used for the polling, contained 2.80 crore voters. In the 2014 elections, there were roughly 2.83 crore voters.
The release added that enough time, opportunity and scope were provided to citizens to register their grievances regarding the deletions of their names, if any. Voters could have checked if their names were in the rolls at all through the Telangana CEO’s website ceo.telangana.gov.in., or could have raised objections by responding to the enrolling authorities by filling the prescribed form ( Form No.7 ).