The Election Commission of India (EC), which sent a team of observers to look into complaints of “selective deletion of eligible voters” in Hyderabad city, has ordered for extension of deadline for two more weeks till 20 November so that those voters can re-enroll their names. The complaint was that the voters from Andhra, Rayalaseema districts were removed at the behest of the ruling TRS.
The team was led by West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kumar Gupta and comprised 14 officials from outside Telangana. The team went around localities from where the complaints of deliberate deletion of voters came and conducted random door-to-door surveys. A large number of voters had complained that their names were removed thinking they were staying in the same houses.
The EC team held an all-party meeting on Monday and received petitions from the public till Wednesday before submitting its report to the EC. The team went through the list of officials who verified the electoral rolls of voters in the city. These officials were drawn from different departments in the state government.
The issue assumed importance in view of upcoming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in January 2016.
Though no punitive action has been proposed by the EC, the Telangana government on its own has shifted GHMC special officer Somesh Kumar, a senior IAS official in the eye of controversy, to the low-profile tribal development department as its secretary. Somesh was among 21 IAS officials shuffled this week, hours after the EC team landed here.
Even as a drive to re-enroll the deleted voters in Hyderabad began, leaders of Congress and BJP demanded action against Telangana Chief Electoral Officer S. Bhanwar Lal for the omissions. Former Congress minister M. Shashidhar Reddy and BJP national vice-president N. Indrasena Reddy blamed Bhanwar Lal for buckling under pressure from the TRS leadership to remove the Andhra settlers’ names.
Unusually, Bhanwar Lal has hit back at both the leaders and maintained that there was no deliberate plan to delete the names of any category of voters. “Always there is an opportunity to re-enroll the names if theirs’ were removed mistakenly. These two leaders — Shashidhar Reddy and Indrasena Reddy — are trying to derive political mileage by making it an issue and defaming me personally,” Lal said.