As the state gears up to go to Lok Sabha polls in a single phase on April 11, a survey conducted in January has revealed that about 12-13 per cent of the total electorate could have been disenfranchised. It also revealed that about 90 per cent names missing from the voter list are of the Dalit and Muslim voters.
The survey, which was conducted by Chetna Andolan, spanned across Dharampur, Raipur and Mussoorie.
It stated that if the same proportion was to be applied across the state, about 2 lakh voters would not be able to vote in the upcoming elections. However, many believe that the number could be much higher and the full extent of the problem is yet to be ascertained.
Speaking to Newsclick, Professor S N Sachan from the state said, “The number could be much higher as about 12-13 per cent of the electorate is missing from these areas. The prime minister says that voting is our fundamental right. On the one hand, he is encouraging people to vote, while on the other hand, there are many who are being left behind in this festival of democracy, If democracy is not participatory, more specifically, for the most marginalised sections, then what is the point?”
Samar Bhandari, a Communist Party of India (CPI) leader from the state, said, “The same pattern could be seen in the Nagar Nigam elections of the state, where about 2 lakh voters were disenfranchised. Currently, the opposition is trying its best to ensure that the Election Commission conducts an extensive survey to ensure that maximum amount of eligible voters can find their space on the list.”
He added, “It becomes clear that this is a deliberate and a systematic attempt of the BJP.”
Earlier this week, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPIM), along with the CPI and the Congress, had conducted a press conference in Dehradun to plan further action on this issue.
Speaking to Newsclick, Rajendra Negi of the CPIM said, “This is a policy of the BJP government, and a deliberate attempt on their part. They are targeting the marginalised sections, as they fear defeat because of their policies and attitude towards these communities. This is extremely dangerous for our democracy.”
Many on the ground are believing that this could also have to do with linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs. However, nothing concrete has emerged as of now. The CPIM, along with other parties, has submitted a memorandum to the election commissioner to demand an immediate action on the issue.
Meanwhile, surveys in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and elsewhere have found equally large number of people missing from the voter lists. In September last year, over 22 lakh voters had gone missing from the electoral rolls in Telangana between 2017 and 2018, ahead of the assembly elections.