By bappaditya paul
The linking of Aadhar number with voter identity card that the Election Commission of India (EC) has initiated, is desirable but not compulsory, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Mr H S Brahma clarified in Kolkata today.
Mr Brahma also said that the EC was considering modalities to deregister such political parties that do not contest polls for a prolonged period and that the probe that the poll panel had recently ordered into the alleged dubious donations to Trinamul Congress by private firm Trinetra Consultants was “a routine thing.”
The CEC was speaking at the 11th National Conference of the National Election Watch in Kolkata this morning. The conference, being held at the Ramkrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Golpark, will continue tomorrow.
“We have undertaken a drive through out the country to seed Aadhar numbers of individuals with their Electronic Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) by August 2015. If this happens, there will be no bogus or duplicate voters in our voter list and India will become the only country in the world where all voters will have biometric verification,” Mr Brahma said.
He later clarified to newsmen that the linking of one’s Aadhar number with the voter card was not compulsory. This means no voter whose name features in a voter list will be barred from voting just because he or she had not linked the Aadhar number with voter card. “Duplicate (multiple) entry of names in the voter list is a crime and is punishable by one year of imprisonment. Hence, it will be good for every Indian citizen to seed Aadhar number with EPIC. Though it is not compulsory, we appeal to all to do this to avoid duplicity of names,” Mr Brahma said. He claimed that already lakhs of voters were themselves “seeding their names” everyday on the special web portal that the EC has launched for the purpose.
The CEC said that while 85 crores Indians already have Aadhar cards, the remaining ones were likely to get it by August and hence linking it with voter identity card by then was very much possible.
In another significant announcement, Mr Brahma said that the EC was “seriously considering” to introduce modalities to deregister the political parties that do not contest polls for a prolonged period and is in existence to mint other benefits such as tax exemptions etc. “There are some 1,600 registered parties in the country of which less than only 200 contest the polls ~ be it Lok Sabha, Assembly or local body polls. Hence, we are very seriously thinking that if a party do not contest any elections for five years or 10 years, it’s registration will suo moto get cancelled,” he said. “The criteria (to remain registered) could be contesting two Assembly elections and one Parliamentary elections in 10 years. But we are yet to finalise this.”
Mr Brahma said that there was instances where several registered political parties have never participated even in a single municipal or panchayat election. Doing away with bogus political parties was an important part of the electoral reforms, he said.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 22 March 2015.)