Mumbai: Even as the University of Mumbai (MU) continues to scrutinise the electoral rolls of its senate elections for duplicate names, BJP leader Ashish Shelar has come up with fresh allegations about irregularities in the varsity's voter registration process.
In a post on X (previously Twitter) on Monday, two days before the Bombay High Court (HC)-mandated deadline to conclude the scrutiny, Shelar claimed that thousands of voter registration forms were filled from a handful of IP addresses, demanding a probe by the Income Tax (I-T) Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED). The opposition leaders, however, said that it's yet another ploy by the ruling coalition to further defer an already delayed election.
More Issues With Voter List
The city BJP chief, whose previous complaint on duplication of names led to an indefinite suspension of the election, claimed that almost half - 46,392 out of 94,631, to be precise - voters for the registered graduates constituency of the senate made Rs 20 registration fee payments from a single digital platform. According to him, only three distinct devices or networks were used to fill registration forms and make payments for 14,493, 4,377 and 2,555 voters, respectively.
Casting aspersions on the voter registration process, Shelar questioned using the service provider's bank account instead of the university's to collect registration fees and whether the voters' documents, Aadhar and details were verified properly. He also sought to know if the voters' graduation certificates were collected by someone to register on their behalf.
FPJ couldn't independently verify these claims. MU is yet to respond to the allegations.
The long wait for MU senate
The university has been functioning without a full-fledged senate, the highest statutory body, for more than one year since the term of the previous body came to an end in September 2022.
In his earlier complaint to the Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil, Shelar had alleged more than 755 instances of duplication or even triplication, while claiming that many names were suspiciously added and removed from the final list of 94,631 voters. Following his letter, the state government asked the university to suspend the election process and probe the alleged irregularities.
MU, on August 17, put a halt on the elections and appointed a three-member committee to probe the matter. The varsity's decision was challenged in HC, which, after multiple adjournments, set the October 25 deadline to complete the inquiry and declare a fresh timetable for the election.
Delaying Tactics, Claim Oppoistion
Calling the new allegations a move, Sagar Devre, the petitioner, said that the demand for I-T and Ed probe is 'laughable. "Considering that the number of voters is only one lakh voters and the registration fee is Rs 20, it's laughable to demand ED probe into a matter of Rs 20 lakh. It's clear that this government doesn't want to conduct any election. After a rebuke from HC, they have resorted to ED inquiry," he said.
Pradeep Sawant, a former senate member from Yuva Sena (UBT), said that the issues raised by Shelar are baseless. "It's a usual practice by all political parties to mobilise the potential voters and get them registered. In the offline process, the forms were physically submitted en masse, while in the online process, it's done digitally. All the registered voters have been duly verified by the university. They just want to avoid the elections," he said.