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Local polls in Gujarat : Deletion of names of lakh of voters from Patel and Muslim areas

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AHMEDABAD: Polling for six municipal corporations-Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar-that was held today,was marked by complaints from lakhs of voters about deletion of their names from electoral rolls.
While Congress leaders claimed that the names of more than four lakh voters were deleted in Ahmedabad, particularly from Patidar-dominated and Muslim areas, the state election commission(SEC) itself admitted that the names of over 2.5 lakh voters were marked `deleted’ in red stamps in the voters list supplied to the polling officials.

While Muslims have always been Congress voters, Patels had announced to vote against BJP this time. BJP leaders, including prime minister narendra modi, Patels say, are not supporting the demand for OBC status for Patel community. Patels form the backbone of BJP in the state.

But SEC rectified its mistake after state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki addressed a press conference and protested strongly demanding “a probe into the incident and taking against those found guilty in the whole episode”.

SEC ordered that all such voters whose names were marked “deleted” in the rolls given to the polling officials but their names were mentioned in the list provided to candidates contesting polls, be allowed to cast their vote. The order was circulated over cellphones to all the polling officials an hour and a half before 5 p.m. when the polling ended.

This led to a large number of people not getting a chance to exercise their right to vote in this poll considered to be a precursor to the assembly elections to be held in December 2017, that, is 19 months away from now.
Addressing mediapersons, Solanki said that it was a “malpractice done by the SEC at the behest of state BJP government”.

He described SEC as “an extension of the BJP”.
Solanki said that BJP resorted to this trick through SEC because BJP leaders were sure of their defeat like they suffered in Bihar assembly elections recently.

Solanki said that it was for the first time in Indian elections that the candidates were given a different list of voters and poll officials a totally different.

“The list with poll officials were having a large number of names marked with red stamp as `deleted’ ”, pointed out Solanki.

A former BJP MLA Geetaben Patel also found her name `deleted’ from the list. She is currently supporting the agitation by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti(PAAS) led by Hardik patel seeking OBC status for Patel community in the state.

PM Modi did not come to cast his vote as he was away on a foreign tour to Malaysia. It was Modi as chief minister in Gujarat who had got a bill passed for compulsory voting which is pending with the President of India for his approval.
But senior BJP leader L K Advani and national BJP president Amit Shah cast their votes in Shahpur and Naranpura areas, respectively.

But senior BJP leader and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel expressed his anger against (SEC) for its failure in implementing e-voting system effectively. hH said: “I had applied for online voting from his residence in Gandhinagar while I am registered as a voter in Rajkot. SEC officials came to my house a week ago and made the arrangement on my computer for it. But just a day ago, they told me that I can’t vote online. So, I rushed to Rajkot today to cast my vote”.

A total of 20,000 voters were registered for online voting but only less than 13,000 could use this option and the rest were asked to go to polling booths for voting by using EVMS.

Muslim Mirror