Parties blame dist election office for failed voter drive

Published: Oct 30, 2012, 06:31 IST | Priyankka Deshpande |

With just two days to go for the campaign to end, and despite the Election Commission of India (ECI) appealing to political parties in the city to appoint Booth Level Agents (BLAs) during the voter's registration drive to add fresh voters to the existing list, no such action has happened.

The political parties in city and Pimpri-Chinchwad have made no move so far to appoint BLAs for the ongoing voter’s registration drive. Deputy District Election Officer Apurva Wankhede claims that despite holding meeting with all eight registered political parties in the city in the first week of October to inform them about the drive, only a few chiefs of the parties came forward.

Besides this she alleges that the last time political parties appointed BLAs only because it was time for the Municipal Corporation and Zilla Parishad elections.  “It is not compulsory for anyone to take part in the voter’s registration process. However, ECI expects that governmental institutions, NGOs and political parties should help to make the drive successful. We are receiving positive response from NGOs and other governmental organisation, but it seems that the political parties have no interest in such excises,” Wankhede said.

The voter’s registration drive began as a month-long nationwide drive on October 1. The main focus was to correct errors in names and addresses, omit repeated names and those of persons who are deceased and to add new voters to the existing voter’s list.  Meanwhile, members of political parties claim that last year when they appointed BLAs, they (BLAs) faced lack of co-ordination amongst themselves and the Booth Level Officers (BLOs).

“When our BLAs used to contact BLOs for the registration work, they were being told that the particular BLO had changed,” said MP and NCP city chief Vandana Chavan.  She added that the district election office already has the list of BLAs that the party had submitted last year.  “I didn’t get any message from the District Collectorate stating that they want a fresh list of BLAs for the ongoing drive,” Chavan said.

Reacting on this, Congress city chief Abhay Chhajed said, “We have told our party men to help the registration staff present at the voter’s registration centre. However, our workers could not do much as they had only received the list of existing voters a few days ago.”  While some claim that they have not received any intimation regarding the fresh list of BLAs, others say that the expected the same list that was submitted last year to suffice.

BJP city chief Vikas Mathkari said, “We are not aware of the district election commission’s decision to appoint BLAs. We also asked for clarification on the matter from the administration regarding why the District Collectorate had not informed us about any such appointment.”  MNS city chief Bala Shedage said that party had already submitted its list of BLAs before PMCs election last year.

“Why does the district election office need a fresh list when all the BLAs are officially registered in the election office? Without submitting a list of BLAs to the election office, our BLAs are in contact with BLOs and performing their electoral duties,” Shedage said.

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