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Mumbai: Tushar Gandhi’s son’s name botched, activists slam EC

Updated on: 25 May,2024 05:16 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Eshan Kalyanikar |

Activists demand transparency, accountability from election body after multiple irregularities reported

Mumbai: Tushar Gandhi’s son’s name botched, activists slam EC

The activists at the press conference in Mumbai. Pic/Kirti Surve Parade

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Mumbai: Tushar Gandhi’s son’s name botched, activists slam EC

On Friday, activist and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Tushar Gandhi, said his son's voter slip did not have the family name and was instead replaced by an unfamiliar name which he couldn't recall. “The name was completely misspelt; we couldn't even recognise it. I think it was Gajadhi, but I can't recall it correctly,” Gandhi said.

He added that his 30-year-old son's gender was also incorrect in the voter slip. “He has voted in past elections. This is the first time something like this has happened,” he said. There were four others voting in the family, the other three did not face this inaccuracy. 

Gandhi was speaking at a press conference organised by seven activist groups to address the issues of polling day mishandling in the city. These included the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Vote for Democracy, Maharashtra Democratic Forum, Lok Morcha, Bombay Catholic Sabha, and Bharat Jodo Abhiyan. “It seemed like the process was deliberately delayed. A lot of people had to return to their work or homes,” he said.

‘Verbal assurances, no action’

The activist groups also recounted a number of prior meetings held with EC officials where verbal assurances were provided. “We had raised the issue of possible missing voters in these meetings. The officials had assured us that presiding officers at booths would provide a deleted voters list upon request,” said Father Fraiser Mascarenes, Bombay Catholic Sabha.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer Kiran Kulkarni said, “Voters with names deleted after December 2023 could still vote if listed with the presiding officer.” He emphasised the need for voters to check and re-register if names were missing a month before voting. Activists argued it was the SEC’s responsibility to raise awareness among marginalised communities. Kulkarni added that names are deleted if people are dead, shifted, or absent, verified three times by booth officers.

Furthermore, the EC's reluctance to put out the actual numbers of those who voted was also flagged in the conference. "Along with data like who has got how many votes, we need to know how many people exercised their right to vote. The EC instead said it is not our mandate. This is a very unusual situation," said Salim Khan, representing Maharashtra Democratic Forum.

The demands

Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad emphasised the need for transparency, stating, “We need Form 17C data released to the public. This will show how many votes were cast, divided by male, female, and the third gender. If all forms tally, counting can continue; if not, it should be stopped.”

The Code of Election Rules, 1961 (Rule 93), allows public access to Form 17C for discrepancies. Setalvad noted that former CECs Yakub Qureishi and Ashok Lavasa said delays in releasing voter count data are unprecedented and stressed the importance of releasing all data to restore confidence. Citizen groups also demanded a revised voters list, removal of extra and deceased voters, and restoration of deleted eligible voters. 

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