A chance discovery

Published : Feb 13, 2004 00:00 IST

A CHANCE verification of the voters list in Guntur by Lok Satta, a non-governmental organisation, led to the discovery of bogus votes. The NGO's convener, Kodanda Rami Reddy, was scrutinising the lists to check whether a candidate was registered as a voter, when he found that there were 340 voters in House No. 2-14-8/27 in Srikrishnadevarayanagar. What is ironic is that this locality has only thatched houses, and each can barely accommodate a family of five. Things were no better even in a posh area like Syamalanagar where 130 voters were enrolled from a single house. It also found that as many as 657 persons, belonging to different religions, were enlisted under one door number, 7-6-846 in Guntur-I constituency, and none of them existed.

Bogus voters were aplenty in other districts as well. In Chittoor, the home district of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, the voter to population ratio exceeded 90 per cent in Punganur and Sathyavedu constituencies. In Punganur, it was 94.4 per cent, leaving only 11,000 of the 1.95 lakh people out of the voters list.

This abnormal increase in the percentage of voters alarmed prospective candidates in constituencies where the victory margins in Assembly elections have been usually low. For instance, the Congress(I) candidate in Vayalpad constituency won the last election by a precarious margin of 0.6 per cent of the votes.

The Chief Electoral Officer, M. Narayana Rao, however, said it was a case of `misunderstanding'. Computer printouts, because of limited space, did not indicate the house numbers and street numbers against a name, but only the ward or area number. Critics misconstrued the ward number as house number, he said. Whatever the truth, Guntur district was second in the bogus voter list scandal with 13.2 per cent bogus votes. Prakasam district topped with 19.9 per cent.

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