Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar has asked his party followers to vote in their home state and also in Mumbai during the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. Since Maharashtra will be witnessing multi-phase polling Pawar wants his followers to take the advantage of it by exercising their franchise twice. Pawar’s remarks have come at a time when the Election Commission has been taking steps to curb bogus voting and also appealing to people to refrain from indulging in this malpractice.
The veteran NCP leader had addressed a rally of Mathadi workers and asked them to first vote in Satara on April 17 and later excercise their franchise in Mumbai which goes to poll on April 24. Most of the Mathadi workers hail from the Western Maharashtra district of Satara. He asked them to exercise some caution by erasing the ink on their fingers. At a time, when people speak about electoral reforms and transparency Pawar is only encouraging bogus voting. In the year 2009, the scenario was different as polling happened in Mumbai and Satara on the same day. As a result of this, many workers were unable to excercise their franchise as they were held up in their native place.
Pawar’s dual voting statements and has not gone down well with the opposition parties. Leader of opposition in the state legislative council Vinod Tawde and AAP has approached the police and the Election Commission. Tawde wants strict action to be taken against Pawar for violating the model code of conduct under the Representation of People’s Act and IPC. Tawade who possess a CD of Pawar’s speech will submit the same to the Election Commission which will then examine it.
Sharad Pawar later clarified that his statements have been misinterpreted by the media. The NCP chief added that he disapproves bogus voting and won’t appeal to voters to indulge in such malpractices. Pawar said that his statement was blown out of proportion by the opposition parties. The Maratha strong man also said that the statements were made by him in a lighter vein. Even political analysts and lawyers were unhappy with Pawar’s statements. Lawyers said that Pawar should avoid issuing such statements even if he was joking. They said that the Election Commission has a right to seek an explanation from Pawar on this matter.
By asking people to indulge in bogus voting a senior leader like Pawar is only sending the wrong signals. The Electoral registration office is very strict while enrolling voters name in the voter list. If a person approaches the office to enrol his name the officer asks him whether his name is registered in the voters list either in Mumbai or at any other place. They only entertain him if he is a first time voter. If his name is registered in other state or district then they ask him to first delete his name from the voters list and then fill a new registration form. Thus registering one’s name in the voters list is a herculean task. If the Electoral registration officers are strict while registering voters then a politician like Pawar is only making mockery of them by asking people to indulge in bogus voting.