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EC to send team to probe Gujarat electoral fraud

By A Correspondent
July 02, 2010 21:52 IST
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The Election Commission will dispatch a team to Gujarat to probe allegations of "bogus voters" being included in the electoral rolls. A three-member Congress party delegation including Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee chief Siddharth Patel, leader of opposition Shakti Singh Goel and general secretary in charge of Gujarat, Sidharath Reddy on Friday called on the Election Commission, complaining against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Narendra Modi government having enlisted some 25-30 lakh bogus voters, enough to turn around stakes in the elections.

Armed with documents and voter lists, the party demanded putting a pause on election activity in Gujarat till a probe is completed. The team alleged that 8000 to 15000 fake voters have been included in each of the 60 assembly segments either by using same election card for multiple entries or vice-versa. Sources in EC later said that Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla after hearing complaints assured them that an official team would be sent to probe the allegations on spot in Gujarat.

The malpractices included one election card number being used multiple times in same constituencies or in multiple constituencies. One name with same card number is registered in the voters list more than once. In some cases one name has been issues more than one election card.

According to documents filed by the Congress delegation, in a single Naranpura assembly seat in Ahmedabad, 7770 names enrolled in the voters list were found to have the same card number. Also in the same constituency, 3788 duplicate election cards have been also issued. In Dabhoi assembly segment in Vadodara district, 9137 names have been found to be registered on the same election card number. The party has found such errors and illegalities in over 60 assembly segments. In 13 assembly segments in Vadodara, the party claimed having found a staggering 4 lakh bogus voters.

The congress contends that since the margin between the BJP and Congress had been an average of 5 lakhs in the last Lok Sabha polls, the 30 lakh bogus votes would seal the fate of the opposition in Gujarat. Further in 2007 assembly elections the winning margin in 61 assembly segments was less than 2000 votes.

The party also opposed the idea of electronic voting as proposed by the Gujarat government to be introduced in the forthcoming civic polls. "It will be used to indulge in further malpractices as it would lack any transparency. Election agents responsible for checking bogus would never know the identification of voters," said Siddharth Patel. Further, he said compulsory voting as suggested by Narendra Modi, had no place in a democracy.

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A Correspondent in New Delhi