Days after the Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala – the Leader of the Opposition in Kerala – filed a complaint before the Chief Election Commission, alleging discrepancies in the voter list, Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena said a preliminary inquiry confirmed several such instances.
“We have asked for a detailed probe in all 140 constituencies. As per the preliminary report of district collectors, we have found that many of the entries are double entry. In Kottayam 1,600 cases were investigated, of which 590 double entries were found. In Thrissur all 570 cases were confirmed to be that of double entry. In Palakkad 2,004 entries were verified and around 800 were seen as multiple entries,” Mr Meena told the media.
“An official has been suspended in Kasaragod district after it was found that he had approved five cards for one person,” he added.
“We have not been able to see any political motives so far. I am looking into this aspect… to see if there is intentional, motivated or foul play on the part of the officials to give more cards or create more entries. We will identify them and take action as per the law,” he said.
Mr Chennithala had earlier alleged a conspiracy to create fake voters to influence the result of next month’s Assembly election in favor of the ruling front.
Calling the multiple entries “Demographically Similar Entries (DSEs)”, Mr Meena said this was not the first such case and referred to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, which also votes next month, and Bengal, which votes over a massive eight phases starting Saturday.
“As of January 20, Tamil Nadu had 3,71,944 DSEs and Bengal had 1,00,376. There are similar cases in other states. Booth-wise lists are prepared with focus on those who are absent, have shifted houses or are dead. These lists, where a person’s name is in lists from more than one location, are given to presiding officers, who then get every case physically verified by the booth-level officer. We do this very seriously… but now that these allegations have emerged, we are taking this even more seriously,” Mr Meena added.
He said that in this election nearly 50 per cent of booths in Kerala will have web-casting facilities. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, re-polling was ordered in seven booths in Kannur, he stated.
Mr Meena also referred to meetings with politicians in different districts, but clarified that no allegations – about discrepancies in voter lists – had been raised at those talks.