Rigging voters’ list for victory, CPM style

via VR Jayaraj | Kannur - Daily Pioneer published on October 28, 2009

As the by-election in Kannur Assembly constituency in northern Kerala is getting nation-wide attention with allegations of rigging of the voters’ list, replacement of the district collector for acting in a biased manner and the Election Commission serving notice on Union Minister Vayalar Ravi for violating the model code of conduct, fresh reports indicate that the CPI(M) had started efforts for entering names for bogus votes into the voters’ list immediately after the Lok Sabha election process in May last.

The efforts for entering thousands of names into the voters’ list for the Kannur by-poll, started immediately after it was known that sitting MLA K Sudhakaran of the Congress would resign as he was elected as MP necessitating by-poll. A rough estimate, even among CPI(M) circles, is that at least Rs 3 million has been spent in the bid to enter thousands of new names of party voters, drawn from adjacent constituencies, in the list for Kannur.

The Congress-led UDF calls this programme of the CPI(M) as “import” of voters from elsewhere, and say this was being implemented through meticulous tactics. The first step in the programme to ensure enough new voters got entry into the list in Kannur was to put pro-CPI(M) officials at all levels – village, taluk and district – in Kannur. It is said that VK Balakrishnan, who has now been removed by the Election Commission on reports of showing bias and inefficiency, had become district collector as part of this strategy.

The Kannur Assembly constituency had always been a big problem for the CPI(M) as it had been suffering electoral loss here repeatedly despite it being the headquarters of the district known as the capital of Red Kerala. Again, the huge defeat of the Left in the last Parliament election in Kannur turned to be another pain. Therefore, the party wanted a win in the Assembly by-poll here at any cost. In a sense, the party thinks that a win here can restore its lost pride.

According to what sources in the CPI(M) and outside indicate, the party had deployed thousands of workers in the field for preparations for the strategic move of manipulating the voters’ list for the by-poll. The main job of the workers was field survey, which in party parlance came to be called “parallel survey” because it was exactly that.

The thousands of party workers roamed the entire area of the constituency identifying unoccupied and rented houses so that these addresses could be used as those of the names suggested for bogus votes in Kannur constituency. This parallel survey was directed and supervised by the party’s branch, local and area committee members and even pro-CPI(M) government officials. The instruction of the party bosses was that each branch committee member should bring in a specific number of “imported” voters.

The original plan was to enter new names in the voters’ list in residential addresses of party fellow-travelers, but several branch committees refused to obey this considering the consequences. The efforts to find out addresses of unoccupied houses, hostels and buildings came up following this.

The party had reportedly planned to add a minimum of 10,000 votes in this way into the existing voters’ list while at the same time get as many names of Congress voters as possible deleted from the list (mis)using the official machinery. The party ensured that about 12,000 applications for new votes in Kannur constituency were submitted.

The biggest mistake the CPI(M) committed, perhaps, amidst all these efforts was to underestimate the fighting skills of Congress MP K Sudhakaran, against whom it even managed to get a criminal case registered. Sudhakaran and his associates fought the CPI(M) plan tooth and nail and succeeded expose the rigging of the voters’ list.

However, the Marxists had succeeded in entering several thousands of names of its “imported” voters in the list and deleting a huge number of names of Congress voters. When the voters’ list was published finally, there were 9,357 new voters in it, and the number of deletions was 6,386. Still, the Congress believes that victory will be theirs after the polling on November 7.

The Marxists have yet another reason for viewing this by-poll as a matter of pride. The Congress candidate is former Marxist MP AP Abdullakutty, whom the CPI(M) had expelled in march last for praising the development model set by Narendra Modi.

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