By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Bengaluru: Names of 9,159 Muslim voters in the Shivajinagar constituency in Bengaluru have been removed from the voters’ list. This removal is done based on a complaint filed by a private agency named Chilume which has links to the BJP. The complaint was filed on November 16, 2022, and the action was taken by the Election commission in January 2023.
It is reported that the private agency, Chilume prepared a list of 26,000 voters after collecting the data illegally since October 2022 for the Shivajinagar constituency. The complaint filed to the Election Commission alleged that 26,000 fake voters are identified in the Shivajinagar constituency who have either shifted from that place or are dead.
The Election Commission published the final electoral roll for the Shivajinagar constituency on January 15, 2023. This is when the BJP private agency swung into action with its voters list some eight days after the electoral roll was published. The private agency of the BJP went to the Election Commission demanding that the 26,000 names mentioned in the EC list should be removed.
The EC officials immediately cross-checked all the 26,000 names and found that 9,159 had either shifted out of their old home addresses or were dead. Accordingly, EC asked the suspected voters to appear before the authorities.
However, media reports say the suspected names that were deleted were all wrong and it verified with those who received the notices found them to be alive and living at the same old addresses.
Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad has reportedly said, “Voters are getting harassed. Many people replied to the first notice, despite the that they have been issued a second notice asking them to appear before the EC. This process is to tire people out.. I don’t know why Shivajinagar was chosen for this experiment. Maybe because this is a safe seat for the Congress, the BJP wants to see if deletion can help them win the election.”
Further, the MLA asked, “how a private group can do door-to-door electoral roll calls and create a voter list of its own is something that is a mystery? The alarming part is the quick response of the election commission to such a complaint.
The move is being seen as a violation of Election Commission rules issued on September 13, 2021, that says no deletion to the electoral rolls can be done six months prior to the end of the term of the Assembly. (Karnataka assembly term ends in the last week of May).
Rules mandate that Form 7 has to be filled if anyone wants to raise an objection and delete a name from the existing electoral roll. Did the BJP fill 26,000 Form 7s? The Electoral Registration Office confirmed that the BJP did not fill any Form 7. If they didn’t, why did the CEO’s office accept their complaint?
Shivajinagar, which is in the heart of Bengaluru, has around 1.91 lakh voters, 40% of whom are Muslims. The constituency has been represented by a Congress MLA since 2008.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org