Elections and controversies are always twin kids in our country. This time CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is tightly enveloped by tons of corruption charges when the countdown for the state assembly elections are almost over. The voters’ fingertips are tipped to touch the EVM buttons on April 6, Tuesday. Both BJP and Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) are leaving no stone unturned in their attacks against CPM and LDF during their campaigns. Then comes the allegation of duplication of voters in the electoral rolls.
No doubt, this is a grave challenge to the fair conduct of impartial voting. Fair voting is the alpha and omega for the adult franchise. It is the most significant and essential factor for the existence of democracy. The dimension of the duplication is a rude shock to the voters; it fell like a bolt from blue on their heads. Obviously, BJP and UDF have taken strong exception to this development.
March 30, 2021, Tuesday, witnessed a landmark direction of Kerala High Court’s Division Bench, consisting of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chali, to the Election Commission to ensure that there is no double voting and to permit a voter to cast only one vote. The direction also ordered EC to make sure that all polling booths do have sufficient State and Central forces. It asked to take immediate steps to implement the directive.
The directive came in the wake of the writ petition of Congress leader and LoP Ramesh Chennithala. The writ sought a directive to the EC and CEO (Chief Elector Officer) to delete or freeze fake and multiple entries of names on the final electoral roll published in connection with the Kerala Assembly polls.
The court observed during the hearing that “we are of the prima facie view that there are discrepancies in the final voters’ list published by Election Commission”. The Court observed that the multiple entries on the voters' list would enable the voters to vote more than once which is illegal.
EC’s counsel submitted before the court that efforts are in the process to find multiple entries in the voters’ list. He maintained, shifting of residence is likely to cause the registration twice. He added that the officers were instructed to visit the residences of such voters to avoid such occurrences, and efforts are being made to avoid multiple voting.
EC’s submission says that when the complaint came up CEO had instructed the district level EOs to probe and report whether there were deliberate attempts to register a voter more than once. LoP’s counsel said that his client’s party-appointed an expert committee to study the matter; they found duplication of names in the final electoral roll; it found fake entries and enrolment of a single voter in many booths of the same assembly constituency and In various other constituencies. The committee reports also said that 324,441 duplications of names and 109,601 bogus voters were detected on the final roll of about 131 constituencies.
Some other reports suggest 434,000 duplications. Same pictures of at the same voters are used for rolls in different booths. The allegation has created anxieties among the leaders and rank and file of BJP and Opposition parties. It is due to the simple reason that CPM is at the helm. CPM has always been facing the allegation for bogus voting. And, this time when the allegations rule the roost right thinking people are worried about fair elections. However the HC direction to the EC to make sure that all polling booths do have sufficient State and Central forces is a solace for them.