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Rediff.com  » News » As always, many find their names missing from voter list

As always, many find their names missing from voter list

April 24, 2014 18:56 IST

As always, many find their names missing from voter list

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Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

Rediff.com’s Paloma Sharma visits a few polling stations in Mira Road, a town located to the north of Mumbai, to listen to the voters’ polling experience  

The crowds start thronging the gates of St Xavier’s school, in Mira Road at 10 am. It seems, contrary to popular perception, urban India has decided to come out to vote this time. Entire families have come together to vote and parents of first-time voters look very pleased. But, there is something amiss.

There is chaos inside the red-bricked school complex. The outer premises of the school has been turned into a makeshift government office. Voters gather at the two long desks placed opposite each other, looking for their names in the voter list. The hassled officials on poll duty are at a loss about what might have gone wrong.

Only a handful of those waiting outside are able to proceed to the classrooms to cast their vote. The rest are unable to find their names in the voters list and may have to try their luck at other polling stations around. “Find your name if you can,” says the on-duty election official, as he pushes the register towards a distressed gentleman.

Special Coverage: Election 2014

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Image: There was chaos at St Xavier's School in Mira Road where several voters could not find their names in the voters list.
Photographs: Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

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'This is shameful. I've got a slip but my name has been deleted from the list'

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Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

A family from Mira Road sits distraught on the staircase.

“Many voters have their documents but have not been included in the list,” says advocate Jalaja Nambiar. “This is shameful. I have got a slip but my name has been deleted from the list. My daughter is a first-time voter and her name too does not feature,” adds Nambiar.

But the polling station at St Xavier’s isn’t the only one where voters are facing difficulty.

The state of affairs is not very different at Holy Cross Convent High School, just 30 minutes away from St Xavier’s.

While the autorickshaw driver who drove this correspondent to Holy Cross Convent High School said he did not believe in voting, the women who got into the rickshaw as I stepped out seemed quite pleased with their experience. Tazeen and her mother held up their finger and giggled when they were photographed.

But people inside the school compound did not seem too happy.

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Image: Tazeen and her mother leave the polling station after casting their vote.
Photographs: Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

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'Thousands of votes are going waste'

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Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

Lancy D’Souza, who has voted in the last 7 elections, and Lina Menezes listen to Nagma Satar Sheikh as she narrates her ordeal.

 “I had registered 3 names -- mine, my daughter-in-law and my husband. My name is not included in the list while my husband has been registered under his father's name,” she says.

“My son died 4 years ago. My neighbour was kind enough to do the running around for us. But now we cannot vote. Thousands of votes are going waste this way," says a visibly upset Sheikh, who shows her voter’s slip.

Vimla Gandhar, 75, has a similar story. She says she has been voting since 2004 using her ration card as identity proof. It is almost in tatters and the pages have turned yellow.

Gandhar carries a plastic bag full of documents and pulls out 6 Aadhaar cards, each belonging to a member of her family. “Bahut mushkil se yeh banwaye the. Ab kya karun inka?” (I got them made with great difficulty. What do I do with it now?) , she asks.

None of her family members have their names on the voter’s list.

Bas beta, ab unko nahi chahiye (vote) toh hum na dein,” she sighs. “Sarkar koi bhi banaye, hum toh gareeb log hain.”

A sense of helplessness hangs in the air. As I exit through the imposing black, iron gates of Holy Cross, a couple approaches me to enquire why I clicked Sheikh’s picture. Although they decline having theirs taken, they too say that all eight members of their family have found their names missing from the voters list.

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Image: Lina Menezes and Lancy D'Souza flaunt their finger after voting.
Photographs: Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

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'I have 32 years of electoral experience'

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Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

A stone’s throw away, at Cosmopolitan School, things seem to be working surprisingly well. The school is small and not many have come to vote here.

Slips are handed out, documents verified and the lines move smoothly. There are several first-time voters in line and one of them is Pranjali Vyas. She comes out of the booth smiling after casting her vote.

Vyas, 18, has come with her parents -- Jaydutt Vyas, 50 and Geeta Vyas, 43. “I have been voting since I was her age,” says her mother, while her father jokes that he has 32 years of “electoral experience.”

Vyas says that while she does not feel proud of having voted, she’d be happy if her choice of candidate wins. However, she says she’s disappointed that not many youngsters have exercised their franchise.

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Image: Nagma Satar Sheikh found her name missing in the voter list while her husband was registered under his father's name
Photographs: Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

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'People need to take the democratic process seriously'

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Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

Pranjali, another first-time voter, feels that not enough people give priority to their right to vote. “People need to take the democratic process seriously. They should see their right as their duty because that's what our nation needs the most right now. Change is inevitable and it will happen whether you want it or not. But use your vote to bring about the change you desire,” she says.

As the sun moves higher up in the sky, people arriving at the polling booth dwindle.

A few voters who have braved the Mumbai heat take shelter under their colourful umbrellas.

As a few plastic tricolours pinned to the wall of a dusty shop, which has pulled down its shutters, sway in the soft summer breeze, some of us wonder which way the nation will swing.


Image: Pranjali Vyas, a first time voter, feels that not enough people give priority to their right to vote.
Photographs: Paloma Sharma/Rediff.com

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