CHANDIGARH — Thirty-five-year-old California-based software engineer Swaroop felt lucky that he was in India during the elections and that he would not miss casting his vote. But Swaroop, like many others across India, could not exercise his franchise because his name was deleted from the electoral roll without any intimation to him or his parents who live in Jayanagar located in the Bangalore South parliamentary constituency.
“I came from the US to India for a cousin’s wedding. I felt lucky that I was in India at the right time and I would get to vote in this election, since I strongly believe that voting is the greatest power that we have, to affect the politics, economy and future of our country. I had not thought of checking my name in the electoral list, because I have been voting since 17 years and I never had issues of my entry missing.” Swaroop said in an email to Huffpost India.
Swaroop moved out of India in 2014, but did not think voting as an NRI would be much of a problem since he had heard of many others like him coming back to India to vote. He said he had voted using the same ID since he was 18 years old and had voted each time until he moved to the US.
“On polling day, I went to the polling booth with my parents but was shocked to find that my name was not there in the voter’s list,” Swaroop said, speaking to Huffpost India over the phone from Bengaluru.
When he approached the presiding officer and showed him his voter ID, Swaroop was told “your entry is not there” and asked to “go home”. Swaroop later found that the last date of filing an application for inclusion in the electoral roll was 11 April.
Swaroop believes UIDAI’s plans of linking voter ID with Aadhaar could have cost him his vote. He had applied for an Aadhaar card in February 2018 but still has not received on to this date.
“Even today, the Aadhaar status website says “no record found” for my enrolment ID. How many times does a person have to enrol to receive their Aadhaar ID in India? Was my vote deleted just because I did not linked it to Aadhaar? But in this scenario, who is to be blamed?” said Swaroop.
HuffPost India reported earlier this month that a systematic pattern of missing voters in India had experts worried. Last week, Ravi Subramanya, BJP MLA from Basavanagudi also tweeted saying names of over 100,000 voters had been deleted from the Bangalore South constituency. Subramanya claimed 80% of them were BJP supporters.
DP Satish, a journalist based out of Bengaluru, said on Twitter that about 60 names were missing from each of the 150 booths in the Malleshwaram assembly seat in Bangalore North
When the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls ended on 18 April, 2,200 voters from Bangalore South, who had submitted their applications on 2 February, 2019, had still not been included in the electoral rolls. Huffpost India is in possession of the list. The status of these applications, as of 22 April, show that the Election Commission is yet to allocate a Block Level Officer for them.
Bangalore South returning officer SS Nakul claimed he was not aware of the case and that officials had carried out thorough checks before deleting names on the list. Nakul said in Swaroop’s case, there was a possibility that his name was deleted because hadn’t been living in India for four years.
Nakul said that an inquiry was being conducted into missing voters cases from the electoral roll.
“Majority of the cases traced so far are of those who have shifted their residences and have not updated their address in the voting list. We updated the electoral roll in October last year and have given a copy to the political parties. We never received any complaints until polling day,” said Nakul.