Voters' campaign fizzles out, but activist soldiers on

Apr 28, 2014, 07:17 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

Activist Pratap Gaikwad, who has filed a PIL on the matter of missing names from the voters’ list, sat on a dharna in the city on Sunday, with a handful of supporters; but the residents who he is campaigning for were nowhere to be seen

The campaign for missing voter’s names is gradually losing steam in the city. On Sunday, not a single resident showed up at the venue to register himself or herself. Social activist Pratap Gaikwad and his supporters were the only ones present at the venue.

NO GIVING UP: Social activist Pratap Gaikwad (second from left) and his supporters protesting  against the messed up voters’ list, in Camp, yesterday.

Ironically, it was the residents themselves who had raised a hue and cry, after being robbed of their right to cast their votes on April 17. It seems now, however, that their anger has started to give way to apathy, and their activism reduced to ‘liking’ the voters’ campaign page on the social networking site Facebook. 

Gaikwad, who was the first to file a public interest litigation (PIL) on the matter, sat on a dharna on Sunday, with a handful of his supporters. “It is not just about my right. I am also fighting for the residents’ right to vote,” said Gaikwad, who runs a school for deprived children in Dahanu.

Gaikwad was of the opinion that it has become a trend among people to show support for a cause that they believe to be just, but only in the initial stages. After a few weeks pass, they are nowhere to be seen.

This seems to be the case in this context as well. District Collector Saurabh Rao (IAS) has received only 1,235 complaints from citizens whose names have been deleted from the voters’ lists. This number is paltry, considering that various citizens’ groups have claimed that around 70,000 names are missing from the voters’ list.

‘Won’t give up’
 “Although the turnout in our campaign is low, I will not give up. If I don’t get justice from the High Court, I will appeal against this messed up voters’ list issue in the Supreme Court of India,” Gaikwad said. The hearings in the case are scheduled to start today in the High Court, and Gaikwad and his supporters are hopeful that justice will be served.

“Our demand is that either give a chance for those to vote who missed the opportunity to do so on April 17, or hold the results of the election from Pune unless the matter is sub-judice,” said Advocate Sunil Jape, who was also present for the protest.

The background

Disappointed at having missed the chance to vote in the Lok Sabha elections on April 17 as their names were missing in the voters’ lists, many came forward to file public interest litigations (PIL) and writ petitions against the district collector. On April 21, activist Pratap Gaikwad filed a PIL, while the next day, People’s Guardian Party’s Pune candidate Arun Bhatia filed a writ petition seeking re-polling in the constituency.

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