The Left parties on Friday sought the intervention of the Election Commission of India (ECI) into attempts at “falsification of electoral rolls and distorting the ensuing Assembly elections as a whole'' in West Bengal.
Pointing to the summary revision of electoral rolls in the run-up to the elections in the State, the delegation said, there was a sudden increase in the applications for inclusion of new names.
“As of today, 56 lakh applications have been made, which amounts to more than 10 per cent of the total electorate in the State. We see the sudden burst as a part of systematic campaign launched by opponents of the Left Front, and the Trinamool Congress to distort the electoral process by trying to add bogus voters,” CPI (M) MP and Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told a press conference.
The delegation met Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi and drew his attention to an earlier meeting on August 3 acquainting him of the problem, following which the State Chief Electoral Officer held an all-party meeting stating that an enquiry will precede any decision on accepting or rejecting applications or affidavits for inclusion of new names.
“We have been given to understand that the commitment so given is not being strictly implemented. There have been instances of questionable roles of certain observers to bring pressure on the block level election officials to turn a blind eye to these obnoxious attempts and legitimise the applications without due consideration as per the direction of the Election Commission,” the delegation said in the petition.
It said the sudden surge of some 56 lakh proposed additions drew attention since the net addition between 2006 and 2009 ranged from -0.5 per cent to 2.38 per cent. Together with this, there were gross attempts to bypass the well-established ECI stipulations for addition of names like submission of affidavits and school and birth certificates from health centres instead of standard procedures.
Mr. Yechury said the Left parties apprehended that staggered voting would facilitate shifting of voters. He said that while the EC understood the issue, a balance was needed on account of deployment of police forces.
The delegation also attached a copy of the memorandum submitted by the West Bengal Left Front Committee to the ECI about the heaps of Form 6 submitted.
On the current controversy over possible tampering of Electronic Voting Machines, Mr. Yechury said the delegation was briefed by officials from the technical side in the ECI to demonstrate its reliability.
“From the demonstration it appeared the machine cannot be manipulated, but much of it is technical and you need technical personnel to seek clarifications,” he said. The delegation suggested convening an all-party meeting to address the concerns being raised by some political parties.
Besides Mr. Yechury, the delegation included Basudeb Acharia, Nilotpal Basu (both CPI-M), Prabodh Panda (CPI), Narahari Mahato (AIFB) and Prasanta Majumdar (RSP).