Tight security outside the strong room at Antonio D’Silva High School, Dadar where Electronic Voting Machines are  kept for counting
Tight security outside the strong room at Antonio D’Silva High School, Dadar where Electronic Voting Machines are kept for counting

Activists find it hard to believe that not a single case of bogus voting occurred in Maharashtra despite a five-cornered contest 

Mumbai : Strangely, for a fiercely fought five-cornered election, there were no cases of bogus voting, either in Mumbai or the rest of the state. “No case of bogus voting has been registered. It no longer happens in Maharashtra,” said Anil Valvi, deputy chief election officer for the state.

He said that any cases of tender voting would be revealed only on counting day. Tender voting is a case of voting where two people vote under the same name. The second man is allowed to vote after his identity is confirmed but both votes are not counted. The vote is counted only in case of a tie.

Observers of the political scene find it difficult to believe that there was not a single case of bogus voting in the state. “I doubt if it is possible to have zero cases of bogus voting in the entire state. In fact, I myself saw young volunteers of a political party who had set up a booth near Lilavati hospital holding a stack of 22 voters’ cards. How did they have those cards? Shouldn’t they be with the individual?” asked Shyama Kulkarni, a trustee of Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI).

Even senior journalist and political observer Kumar Ketkar found it hard to believe that there was not a single case of bogus voting in the state.

 A returning officer told FPJ on condition of anonymity that she caught five bogus voters but chose not to pursue any action against them as that would mean endless court appearances.

Observers also question the miniscule seizures of cash and liquor in these polls. According to the State Election Commission, Rs 14.52 cr has been seized while 2.72 lakh litres of alcohol have been confiscated.

The figures are too small for a state the size of Maharashtra since more than Rs 16 crore were seized in the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year. “I doubt these figures,” said political observer Rajendra Sathe. However, the EC says that the Lok Sabha elections had a model code of conduct of 70 days while these assembly elections had a model code of conduct of 37 days.

A sceptical Kulkarni also wanted to know why the EC was being lenient with politicians such as Ajit Pawar who were found violating the code of conduct.

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