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Bengal: Large-Scale ‘Anomalies’ Noticed in Voters’ List, Inclusion of Deceased, Transferred Names

Some block level officers acknowledged allegations made by the opposition that ruling party men “were pressuring them not to delete names of deceased persons”.
Some block level officers acknowledged allegations made by the opposition that ruling party men “were pressuring them not to delete names of deceased persons”.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Kolkata: Numerous instances of alleged large-scale anomalies have been reported in voters’ list across West Bengal, opposition parties have alleged.

In many instances, names of deceased voters have been included in the list, and despite flagging the matter, the Election Commission staff has not been proactive in removing them, they said. The onus often falls on individuals to produce a death certificate, rather than the Election Commission taking the initiative to approach the appropriate authorities for deletion of names.

This ‘lax approach’ of the state election commission, especially given the persistent allegations of false and bogus voting under the Trinamool Congress (TMC) regime, has been criticised by the opposition parties.

Sagareshwar Das, a booth-level officer (BLO) working in the Sonarpur North Assembly segment, while acknowledging some of these allegations, told NewsClick that ruling party “hooligans often pressure” BLOs not to delete names of deceased persons from the voters’ list.

“In some cases, BLOs operate from party offices of the ruling party, making decisions about whom to include or discard without involving the common people,” he alleged, claiming  that deliberate omissions in the case of transferred voters, whose names exist in multiple places, are also not being  addressed properly.

“According to the rules, individuals are required to apply for the transfer of their names using the form no 8 from the Election Commission. But this process is not being carried out effectively in the state,” he alleged.

In several instances, active TMC workers who do not belong to the prescribed categories for BLO selection, are appointed to work as BLO, the opposition parties allege. These appointments are facilitated by a section of the administration, and they often work from TMC offices or their homes instead of conducting fieldwork, as required by their job, the sources added.

For instance, in the Jadavpur Assembly segment, spanning 106 wards, various sub-divisions exhibit a concerning trend of frivolous voters. In part 25 (of the voters’ list), there are over 150 individuals identified as frivolous voters, while part 28 has 81 such cases, part 29 records approximately 46 false voters, and part 30 notes 55 instances of false voters, said a CPI(M) worker, who has been closely studying the voters’ list.  

In the Jadavpur area, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers said they detected the prevalence of false voters and submitted 30 applications under form 7 to the BLO.

However, the BLO told the CPI(M) workers that the applications must also bear signatures from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a deviation from the rulebook.

Officially, the responsibility lies with the BLO, who, upon receiving the application, is required to conduct an independent inquiry and decide on the omission of false voter names from the list, said a party worker.

CPI(M) workers alleged that this situation extended to bordering Assembly segments of the state, where “false voters and names of Bangladeshi national figures” were also seen in the voters’ list. Many individuals enlisted as voters in these segments are reportedly also voters in Bangladesh, they claimed.

Rabin Deb, CPI(M) central committee member who is in- charge of Election Commission-related issues, expressed concern about the situation. He said he had raised the issue with the Chief Electoral Officer, who had assured him of redressal.

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