Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Election Laws (Amendment) Bill brought in to discourage voting, alleges Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

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Congress Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury while demanding that Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to link Aadhaar with the electoral roll, should be sent to the standing committee, alleging that the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha is related to the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. “It has been passed keeping in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in mind… I think the bill was brought in to keep many people away from exercising their electoral voting right,” said Chowdhury. “I don’t know why the government was in hurry to pass Election Laws (Amendment) Bill. It should have been sent to a standing committee. We still don’t have a data protection law. This may impact people’s voting rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the Centre is curtailing the independence of the Election Commission by bringing the legislation.

Amid uproar by the opposition, Lok Sabha passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill on Monday. Speaking to ANI, Kiren Rijiju said the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill would allow the electoral roll to be linked with Aadhar cards. It will be optional, not mandatory but it will help us to sieve out fake voters. Rijiju said that there should be a proper discussion on election reforms. The Opposition was asked to participate and voice their opinions in the discussion, but they created chaos.”

Rijiju said, “The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill proposes to replace the word ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ to make the act (Representation of the People Act of 1951) gender-neutral. It will also expand the limits of the election premises acquisition.” Rijiju added, “Even after 18 years, the system said that one has to wait a whole year to exercise their voting rights if they could not register on January 1 (of the year of revision of electoral roll). This bill will allow 4 qualifying dates a year to register as voters.”

According to government sources, the bill has a provision whereby the new applicant may voluntarily provide Aadhaar number along with the application for the purpose of identity. No application will be rejected on the grounds that Aadhaar number has not been provided.

Sources say linking Aadhaar with the electoral roll will solve one of the major problems in electoral database management that is multiple enrolments of the same person at different places. Thus, the possibility of electors whose names appear in more than one electoral roll or at times more than once in the same electoral roll can be removed.

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