BJP's contention on bogus voters challenged

NEW DELHI OCT. 26. The contention of the BJP spokesman, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, that one in every fourth voter in the Capital was either duplicate or bogus has been challenged by demographic experts.

In fact in a communication to the Election Commission of India, demographic experts have argued "just the opposite'' and tried to prove that there was a very high level of under registration of eligible voters in the electoral rolls of the Capital. Demographic experts, who are considered to be authorities on population-voters relationship, and senior Election Commission officials, have claimed that Prof. Malhotra's allegation was unscientific, irrational and without any basis.

At a press conference last Sunday, Prof. Malhotra had distributed a study carried out by a private company on behalf of the BJP, which had claimed to have detected about one-fourth of the voters in the Capital either bogus or duplicate.

Giving details of population figures of the Capital, where the number of male is much larger than females due to the mass migration of unemployed youths from poor regions like Bihar, Uttaranchal and eastern Uttar Pradesh, experts said at least 70 per cent of Delhi's 1.4 crore population should have been enrolled in the electoral rolls of the Capital. Any ordinary resident of the Capital of more than 18 years of age on January 1 of that year becomes eligible to be registered as a voter.

Instead, senior officials and demographic experts argue that with only 82,59,125 registered voters in the Capital, the percentage was less than 60 per cent. "If we take into account that about 5 per cent of the electoral rolls are duplicate and given the fact that people's movement from part of the city to other is very frequent and their names are not deleted from the earlier polling stations, one can easily conclude that at least 16 per cent of the eligible voters of the Capital are not registered,'' argued a demographic expert. "This is a serious lapse on the part of the Commission that eligible voters have not been registered in the electoral list,'' he alleged.

Top officials of the Election Commission conceded that they had received a large number of complaints from the residents of the Capital that their names were not being included in the electoral list. The complaints were more from those coming from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh particularly those living in outer Delhi and rural areas of the Capital. "We have observed strong regional bias among the employees entrusted with this task. Investigations have revealed that the officials who are mostly from Northern Indian States simply rejected applications of those coming from States like Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, which are known for their mass migration,'' officials said.

Alleged the Congress MLA from Nasirpur, Mahabal Mishra: "More than 12,000 applications of Purvanchal people have been rejected without any valid ground. All these applicants were residents and it was because of regional bias that they were rejected.'' A delegation of Purvanchal leaders in the Capital, including the senior Congress leader, Subodh Kant Sahay, and Mr. Mishra, had led a delegation to the Election Commission in this regard. In the enquiries that followed, the Commission found that their complaints were genuine.

"So it is not the issue of bogus or duplicate voters, but it is the question of high under representation, which has now become a issue of concern for all of us,'' the officials said.

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