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CEC orders probe into omission of voters' names

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, APRIL 21. The Chief Election Commissioner, T.S. Krishna Murthy, today ordered a comprehensive inquiry into a large number of complaints about voters' names missing from the electoral list in the State for which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular) had found fault with the commission.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Abhijit Dasgupta, told presspersons here that Mr. Krishna Murthy had informed him over telephone this evening of the commission's decision to hold an inquiry into the reasons leading to the deletion of names of thousands of voters, particularly in the urban constituencies of the State. Elections were held in 15 Lok Sabha and 120 constituencies on Tuesday.

Even in 1996, when the names of lakhs of voters were missing from the electoral rolls, the then Chief Election Commissioner, T.N. Seshan, had taken note of the negligence on the part of those who had been assigned the work of enumeration. Fresh enumeration followed the elections held that year. The enumeration work is generally done by the Revenue Department in rural areas and by civic bodies such as the BMP in urban centres.

Mr. Dasgupta said that no details were available about the composition of the inquiry team. Terming it a systemic failure, he ruled out the connivance of any political party or candidate with the personnel responsible for the intensive revision of the voters' list in 2002 and earlier. The missing names could be only because of negligence and carelessness, he said. He said he did not know whether the voters, whose names were not found on the list, could go to court for the lapse.

The revision of the voters' list was done for two months from the first week of January. Voters had to visit the assistant revenue officers of their region to see whether their names were there on the list.

The commission used to issue appeals to voters and the political parties to ensure addition of names of the voters, but there was poor response to them.

The parties were given copies of the voters' list and a CD containing the names for any update of the same, but they had concentrated on publicity rather than on helping the voters.

Another reason for the non-inclusion of names, according to him, was the reduction of the number of polling booths from 44,000 to 40,000 in the State. There could be some computer programming mistakes.

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