Bangalore LS Elections – Michael Saldanha discovers Minorities missing from Voters List
The Election Commissioner
The 1st phase of voting was undertaken in Bangalore City on 23 April 2009. This year the
consciousness levels were abnormally high and both individuals and organizations over
the last six months had taken the trouble to ensure that every singly eligible voter was
duly represented in the electoral rolls. In my own case I personally ensured that all the
requisite procedures were complied with and completed within the prescribed time.
Despite this when we reached the Polling Booth No. 5 yesterday the name of Domingos
Regino Fernandes was missing from the electoral roll. This man is permanently resident
at my flat as he works for me and has voted at all the earlier elections.
Since 7.30 a.m. yesterday I received over 100 calls from citizens all over the city
complaining that their names have been selectively deleted from the electoral rolls. Every
single one of them stated that they have complied with all the formalities and it is their
charge that the names have been deliberately removed at the stage of the final printing.
I spent about four hours at the polling booth Nos.4, 5 & 6 and I desire to record
something serious that has taken place at this centre:
(a) It is not correct to state that the voter turnout in the city was poor. I have seen
several elections and between 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. there was a heavy continuous
stream of persons arriving to cast their votes. This was the case all through
the day. Unfortunately as many as 2 to 3 out of every five persons found
their names missing. The situation was unpleasant because all of them
insisted that they had complied with all the requirements and they alleged
that because they belonged to the minority community or to sections of
society who would not be supporting the BJP that their names have been
removed. There is considerable substance in this charge because the absence
of names follows the very pattern that is being complained about. For
instance, in a family group just one or two names are present and all the
remaining members of the household have been deleted. In other instances
wholesale deletion has taken place principally because the names are easily
identifiable such as persons belonging to the Christian and Muslim
community. The reason why I spent considerable time doing an on the spot
analysis was because I wanted to check the facts very carefully and I find that
the charge is fully substantiated.
(b) There was a lot of movement around this centre because the candidates and
their representatives were continuously moving between the various polling
centers in Bangalore and all of them told me that the aforesaid pattern was
common at all the polling centers in Bangalore City. (c) On the basis of actual figures available the voter turn out in Bangalore City
was close to 100% but the report put out is that the voting was around 40%.
This is because only 40% of the persons who came to vote were allowed to
vote. What follows from this is extremely serious because the result that
emerges will not be representative of the will of the people as over 50% of
the citizens were prevented from voting.
(d) THE IRRESISTABLE CONCLUSION IS THAT MORE NUMBER OF
VOTERS HAVE BEEN DENIED THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS TO
CAST THEIR VOTES THAN THE NUMBER WHO HAVE ACTUALLY
VOTED BECAUSE OF A DEVIOUS AND CORRUPT PRACTICE THAT
HAS MANIFESTED ITSELF WHILE PRINTING THE FINAL LIST. ONE
OF THE LADIES PRESENT IS WILLING TO GIVE EVIDENCE THAT SHE
HAD CHECKED THE FINAL LIST, FOUND HER NAME THERE AND
THAT IT HAS STILL BEEN DELETED FROM THE LIST AVAILABLE AT
THE POLLING BOOTH. THERE WERE SUSPICIONS AND
ALLEGATIONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT WHICH IS IN CHARGE OF
THE PRINTING IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS IN ORDER TO ENSURE
THE SUCCESS OF ITS OWN CANDIDATES. THE FACTS FULLY
ESTABLISH THIS CHARGE.
The irresistible conclusion is that the electoral process is vitiated ab initio by a corrupt
practice amounting to FRAUD and on this ground alone the Election Commission will
have to order an enquiry and a re-poll. As a first step an immediate public notice will
have to be issued in the media very prominently calling upon all those citizens whose
names have been illegally deleted to bring it to the notice of the Election Commission in
a duly prescribed manner and within a specified time. It is not necessary that the number
of persons complaining should be higher than or close to those who have voted because
there are instances when the contest is close and even a few votes could tilt the balance. If
it is found on enquiry that a corrupt practice has occurred a re-election will have to be
ordered at all the centers where the voting took place on 23 April 2009. It follows that the
results of the vitiated election cannot be declared.
Please take immediate steps to proceed along the lines as set out above. If the
Commission refuses to do so an order to that effect may be passed so that the aggrieved
parties can move for legal redress. This may be treated as a formal demand for justice.
Justice M.F. Saldanha (Retd.)
Chairman – Karnataka Chapter.
Transparency International India