Tuesday 05 December 2023

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Politics | Assembly '02

Photo I-cards must for polls


In spite of parties like the Congress urging to follow old procedures, the Election Commission of India has decided to make photo identification compulsory in the Assembly polls, scheduled in Goa on 30 May.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has also supported the view of the EC, though they agree with the opposition Congress that identity cards issued by the Election Commission need not be made compulsory.

Going beyond both these views, the Congress however has demanded that no method of producing identification of any kind be made compulsory, claiming that no bogus voting takes place in a small state like Goa.

As per joint electoral officer R P Pal, the EC has till date issued photo identity cards to almost 68 per cent electorate and the work of photographing voters is progressing very well.

Goa has only 9.18 lakh voters while it the second ranking state in terms of literacy rate, following Kerala.

While taking up work of making photo identity cards on war footing, the local election office also dispatches weekly reports to Delhi office regarding the progress. But unfortunately it has no compiled data available to substantiate its claim.

"A final decision on making the EC cards compulsory will be taken only after 20 May", states Pal, adding that the system of producing ration card as the voter's identity will be definitely discarded this time.

In spite of the local Congress leaders discussing the issue with local election officials, Pal asserts that producing authorised photo identity card will be a must for voting. The decision on alternate photo identity cards will be however taken only if required, he clarifies.

In its election notification issued on 17 April, the CEC has made it amply clear that additional methods of identification of voters will be allowed to be used, in order not to deprive the voter from exercising his franchise.

Pratapsing Rane, former Congress chief minister, feels that the EC should follow the same old system rather than producing identity card, as many people in rural areas do not have such documents to prove their identity.

BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar however dubs it as a mere excuse, so that bogus voting could continue even in these elections. "The Congress cannot win without bogus voting. That is why they are desperate", he alleges.

Incidentally, Goa has successfully conducted municipal, zilla panchayat and panchayat elections in last two years where the state election commissioner had made production of identity compulsory, including the ration card.

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