Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

West Bengal Polls: 16 Parties Approach EC, Flag ‘Abnormal’ Rise in Number of Voters

In their complaint, the parties also pointed out anomalies in the rationalisation of polling booths, especially in eight Assembly constituencies.
West Bengal Polls: 16 Parties Approach EC, Flag ‘Abnormal’ Rise in Number of Voters

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: India TV News

Kolkata: Ahead of the Assembly elections next year, as many as 16 political parties, including the Left parties, have expressed their deep concern to the Election Commission of India (ECI) over certain  ‘anomalies’ in the rationalisation of polling booths as also an ‘abnormal’ increase in the number of voters in the state, especially in eight Assembly constituencies.

Peeved at the indifferent attitude of the State Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office, the 16 parties also organised a series of dharnas recently. Addressing one such dharna, Left Front chairman Biman Basu said that the 78,903 booths where about 7.19 crore voters will exercise their franchise showed up some anomalies and urged the CEO’s office to take steps to rectify these.

A delegation headed by Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s central committee member Rabin Deb and former MP Shamik Lahiri met ECI officials recently and lodged complaints regarding the ‘abnormal’ voter increase over the past four years. 

According to the complaint, eight booths were added to the Kasba Assembly segment with a total increase of 29,626 voters. Similarly, in Metiabruz, six booths showed addition of 28,975 new voters. The parties also cited an “abnormal” increase in voters and booths in Dabgram-Phulbari (38,332 voters), Jangipur (36,693 voters), Basanti (31,004 voters) and Sonarpur Uttar (42,818 voters). Ward No. 66 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation had seen 91,393 additional voters, which was an “unusual” increase, Deb told NewsClick.

In 2016, the total number of voters in the state was 6,55,46,104. The total number of voters now stands at 7,18,49,308. The growth in the number of voters over the past 10 years in the state is 1,55,64,984, a “higher increase than usual” in any of the preceding decades, Deb said.

The 78,903 voting booths in the state are slated to be placed in 53,858 premises. But even after rationalization, there are nibe booths in a single premise South City College in the Rashbehari Assembly segment.

The Left parties have alleged that there have been multiple entries and have asked for immediate deletion of these, as well of bogus voters and those who who have shifted out.

In an all-party meeting on December 11, there was unanimous support for this move. However, several political are not vocal on the matter. “Even if there are 2-5% bogus voters in the voters’ list, the verdict will not be reflected in most cases,” Deb alleged.

Highlighting “procedural lapses” within the state CEO’s, Deb said since most of its employees were on deputation and drawn from banks and other sectors, the paucity of electoral staff was a great concern.

“In the case of deletion of names, if there is mention under Form 7, then action is to be taken by the Booth Level Officers (BLO), most of who are now engaged in the ‘Doorstep Government’ scheme of the state government. The onus is on the Election Commission and the CEO’s office to prepare a fair electoral roll,” the CPI(M) leader said.

In the complaint, the CPI(M) has enclosed a list of 3,140 names of dead voters that are still in the voters’ list. The party alleged that these names have not been deleted owing to refusal by BLOs. It said some BLOs were not taking action in such cases unless a death certificate was produced. However, doing that is the responsibility of the BLO concerned, it added.

The Left and secular parties in the state have also demanded the Election Commission include the names of migrant workers and those who have lost their homes due to river-course alteration in Murshidabad, Malda and Nadia.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram