Onmanorama's weekly election bulletin - Kerala Poll Buzz - is packed with analytical pieces, curated stories, social media buzz, statistics and political cartoons to keep you up-to-date with all the political developments from the south Indian state that will go to polling booths on April 6. Send your suggestions and queries to: email@example.com
Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and his colleagues in the Congress have been picking fake voters from the electoral roll published by the Election Commission since last week.
Till Friday, they have counted 2.17 lakh fake voters in 61 assembly constituencies. The number may increase as the vetting process is on in the remaining 79 constituencies.
Election to 140 assembly constituencies in Kerala is scheduled for April 6.
The scrutiny reveals that the fraudsters have adopted the same modus operandi to add fake voters.
Here is an example. Kumari is a 61-year-old voter in Uduma constituency in Kasaragod district. Five voters’ identity cards have been issued in her name without her knowledge. Kumari says she has only one identity card. Chennithala has produced the serial numbers of the cards issued in her name.
This begs a question: Where are the other four cards? Who is in possession of them?
Chennithala said the same address and photo have been used in most of the bogus cards. In some cases, minor changes in address have been detected.
The number of fake voters varies between 1,000 to 5,500 in the 61 constituencies vetted so far. And this is enough to rig the people’s mandate.
In the 2016 election, 24 constituencies saw neck-and-neck fights where the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes.
Winners in two seats were decided by less than 100 votes. The victory margin in five seats was less than 1,000 votes. The margin was less than 2,000 votes in eight seats; less than 3,000 votes in six seats and less than 4,000 votes in three seats.
This reveals a shocking picture. Allowing the fraudsters to vote in the upcoming election is tantamount to rigging it.
Chennithala alleged that the fraud could not have been possible without the support of state government officials who were in charge of enrolling voters.
The election commission has taken the issue seriously. Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena has asked the officers to check the irregularities. Booth Level Officers have begun investigation to find out how the irregularities occurred. The commission has put forward a stop-gap arrangement to ensure that the election will be held according to the schedule. It will quickly prepare a list of multiple voters’ identity card holders. They will be allowed to cast their votes only in one booth of their choice.
Though the fake voters’ controversy has been raging for a few days, the mainstream political parties, except the Congress, have not asked the commission to remove fake voters from the list. This deafening silence is most worrying.
The parties must understand that free and fair elections are the hallmarks of a robust democracy. Rigging polls through nefarious means threatens the very existence of democracy.
It is high time all the political parties joined hands to end this election fraud. Only then can we proudly claim that our representatives are elected democratically. Else, we would be mourning the demise of our democracy very soon.
The Curious Case of Women’s Representation in Polls
My colleague R Ayyappan asks a pertinent question about women's representation in Kerala Assembly in this piece titled, ‘Most favoured in panchayat, unwanted in Assembly: Why bias against women as MLAs and MPs in literate Kerala’.
“Even 64 years after Kerala was formed, female representation in the Assembly has remained stagnant. If the first Legislative Assembly in 1957 had six women members, the outgoing 14th Assembly had just eight, all of them LDF members. In this time, Kerala had elected 906 members to the State Assembly. Only 49 of them were women. Women contestants had, in fact, increased over the years, from nine in 1957 to 110 in 2016. But since 2001, when the total number of women contestants had crossed 50 for the first time, 70 to 75 per cent of them had forfeited their deposits, indicating that they were either dummy or non-serious candidates. And right from its formation, Kerala had sent only 15 women to the Lok Sabha.”
Ground stories, analyses, interviews and video stories from Onmanorama reporters
1. R Ayyappan finds out from Nemom that Congress candidate K Muraleedharan’s biggest challenge is a dead party machinery and not rivals from BJP or CPM
4. G Ragesh files this report from Tripunithura, which is witnessing a tough fight between CPM strongman M Swararaj and Congress’ K Babu.
5. TA Ameerudheen finds out from Vadakara that the Left Democratic Front is harping on development and welfare to sway debates on TP Chandrasekharan’s murder.
7. TA Ameerudheen interviews Noorbina Rasheed, the lone woman candidate of the Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala in 25 years.
8. Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) candidate from Vadakara K K Rema, whose husband T P Chandrasekharan was hacked to death in 2012, tells TA Ameerudheen that Pinarayi Viajayan is a dictator.
Curated Poll Stories
• Setback for NDA: Poll officers reject papers of Thalassery, Guruvayur, Devikulam candidates
• Rahul Gandhi's NYAY at the heart of UDF's election manifesto
• LDF manifesto conspicuously silent on Sabarimala row
• PC George and the three challengers: Poonjar remains a case study
• PC Thomas-led Kerala Congress quits NDA, merges with Joseph faction
• 'It's a deal. What else can it be?' Rejected RSS honcho Balashankar hits back at BJP leaders