Jammu: A day after the final electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir were published, some experts and political parties on Saturday questioned the record addition of over 11 lakh voters to the list, saying it appears that authorities adopted a “clandestine approach” to add outsiders to the list.
Out of the 11 lakh new voters, 3 lakh are first-time voters. Eight lakh new voters across different assembly segments can change the total vote bank equilibrium in favour of the ruling party, political expert A N Sadhu said.
CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said non-BJP parties have formed a committee to discuss the issue.
The final electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir were published on Friday with the highest-ever addition of 11.28 lakh new voters.
Taking into account the deletion of names from the electoral rolls, the net increase stood at 7,72,872, a 10.19 per cent increase in registered electors over the draft roll, Joint Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Anil Salgotra had said.
The release of the electoral rolls paves the way for holding assembly polls in the union territory, the first since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated and the state was bifurcated into union territories in 2019.
Political expert Sadhu said this sudden increase in the number of new voters “is a matter of concern”.
Out of the over 11 lakh new voters added to the electoral rolls, 3 lakh are first-time voters. But what about the remaining over 8 lakh new voters, he asked.
“Eight lakh voters in different assembly segments can change the total vote bank equilibrium in favour of the ruling party and affect the prospects of regional parties,” he added.
Sadhu said the authorities appear to have adopted a “clandestine approach” to add those from outside Jammu and Kashmir to the electoral rolls.
The number of voters added in the latest special summary revision of electoral rolls is much higher than in previous exercises.
According to a Jammu and Kashmir election department statement, 11,40,768 claims were received for inclusion in the electoral rolls and 11,28,672 were accepted.
The accepted claims included 3,01,961 in the age group of 18-19, the statement said.
An analysis of the official data showed that 6.55 lakh new voters were added to the electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir during the five-year gap between parliamentary elections in 1984 and 1989 and 5.62 lakh between 1996 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections.
As many as 11 lakh voters were added during the 1999-2004 period, 3,80,549 between 2004 and 2009, 4,87,778 between 2009 and 2014, and 6,33,290 between 2014 and 2019.
However, the addition of 11,28,672 new voters in the latest special summary of electoral rolls comes after a period of three years — from 2019 to 2022.
The number of new voters added to the electoral rolls ahead of the 1996 assembly elections — conducted after over six years of Governor’s rule in the erstwhile state following the eruption of militancy — stood at 4,76,195, the data revealed.
Over 12 lakh new voters were added between 1996 and 2002, 2.96 lakh between 2002 and 2008 and 7.13 lakh from 2008-2014, it showed.
Senior CPI(M) Tarigami said apprehensions raised by remarks of officials about outsiders being added to Jammu and Kashmir’s electoral rolls seem to have come true.
He was referring to the statement made by former Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar in August that the union territory is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, after the special summary revision of electoral rolls.
“All non-BJP parties have formed a committee to look into all the issues. We hope to deliberate on these issues soon and come out with our responses,” Tarigami said.
The Centre, particularly the chief electoral officer, should take all measures to address any apprehensions regarding the process and ensure fairness of the electoral exercise.
The Jammu and Kashmir Congress had spoken in the same vein on Friday.
“Our apprehension that some non-eligible voters have been added from outside Jammu and Kashmir as per announcement appears to be true,” Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma had said.
Apni Party general secretary Vijay Bakaya said on Saturday that the big jump in the number of voters is because of 2011 being the cut-off date and those eligible to vote over the past 10 years seem to have enrolled.
“However, the party will deliberate on it,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir election department also deleted 4.12 lakh voters from the rolls.
“A total of 4,12,157 requests for deletion were received, out of which 3,58,222 were accepted and 53,935 were rejected,” Joint CEO Salgotra had said.
The final electoral rolls have a total of 83,59,771 electors, including 42,91,687 males, 40,67,900 females and 184 third gender, he had said. PTI