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Polling is nearing: CEO ordered for a detailed inquiry

As there is less than two weeks before the constituents of the southern state of Kerala head to the polls, the chief electoral officer, Teeka Ram Meena ordered a detailed inquiry into all 140 constituencies to find out the malpractices in the voter list.

The CEO’S instruction came just days after Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala filed a complaint with the Chief Election Commission providing the details of a astonishing 2,16,510 voters across 51 constituencies who were told as ‘fake voters.’

“We have sought reports from all district collectors in the wake of allegations that fake voters have found their way into the electoral roll. I cannot rule out foul play. I will come up with more details after getting the reports from the collectors,” Meena said.

CEO has also added that all political parties had been provided between three and four months to study and carefully and critically analyse the list with none approaching the commission with any concerns until “the eleventh hour.”

Meena also confirmed that there are 590 double entries had been discovered in Kottayam in 1,600 cases that were investigated. “In Thrissur, all 570 cases were confirmed to be that of double entry. In Palakkad, 2004 entries were verified and around 800 were seen as multiple entries,” he added.

Following Chennithala’s alerting of the electoral commission to these dissimilarities, he had complained that there was a larger conspiracy to generate fake votes that could very well influence the final result of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state in favour of the ruling Left Democratic Front led by Pinarayi Vijayan.

This claim will need to be investigated further, the reality is that given the scale of dissimilarities already excavated, there is a real possibility that it could have a significant impact in determining the outcome across several closely fought constituencies.

The 2016 election was worth noting that, 24 of Kerala’s 140 constituencies saw inch-by-inch battles where the margin of victory was under 5,000 votes. The winners of the two constituencies were decided by a margin of fewer than 100 votes. The margin was under 1,000 votes in five other seats. Eight seats saw margins under 2,000 votes, six had victory margins under 3,000 votes and three winners had victory margins under 4,000 votes.

Meena opted to refer to these entries as “Demographically Similar Entries” (DSEs) also swiftly noting that similar cases had been witnessed in other poll-bound states of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu as well. “As of January 20, Tamil Nadu had 3,71,944 DSEs and Bengal had 1,00,376,” he said. “Booth-wise lists are prepared with a focus on those who are absent, have shifted houses or are dead.”

The thing that need to noted is that all the other mainstream parties is keeping silence except the Congress seemed worrying about the democratic process. The electoral process is found to be compromised, it remains to be seen what channels the losing parties would use to seek retributive justice.

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