Friday, February 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Haryana voters must prove identity
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 10 — The Election Commission (EC) today directed that all voters in Haryana, who have been issued electoral identity cards, will have to produce these cards when they come to exercise their franchise for the assembly poll on February 22 while others will have to produce some documentary evidence to establish their identity.

According to the commission, of the 1,11,09,568 voters on the electoral roll in Haryana, 97,77,534 have been issued with identity cards and it is of the view that the state would give a lead to the nation in the successful implementation of the use of these cards.

A press note issued by the commission said Haryana would also become the first major state in the country to use the electronic voting machine on an extensive scale. For the assembly elections 45 of the 90 constituencies will use EVMs.

Since this is the first time in the country that the production of electoral identity cards is being insisted upon, the commission as a matter of abundant caution will permit the odd electors who have not the cards to vote provided their identity is established to the satisfaction of the presiding officer or polling officers.

These voters in Haryana will have to produce documentary evidence like ration card, passport, driving licence, identity card issued by central or state government, public sector undertakings, local bodies or other private industrial houses, property or tax documents, pass books issued by bank and post offices, kisan pass book, electricity bill, chula tax bill or any other similar document establishing the identity of the person.

A similar procedure will apply in respect of the person who has been supplied with the electoral identity card but is not able to produce it for reasons beyond his control.

The commission noted that during the past six years when the programme to issue electoral identity cards began, Haryana had made all possible efforts to see that all eligible voters obtained the cards.

It said it was not due to any lack of initiative of the administrative machinery that the left out voters did not get their cards but because these people were either dead or had moved out of the state.

The commission also made it clear that it would pursue its efforts for using the cards in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Pondicherry which are slated to go to polls early next year and directed the electoral authorities in these states to focus their attention on the completion of the process.

The Haryana’s record of issuing electoral identity cards to 88 per cent of the electorate has come in for praise from Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill.

In as many as 35 of the 90 constituencies, the cards have been supplied to more than 90 per cent of the voters. In Palwal and Ratia (SC) assembly constituencies, the percentage is above 95 per cent.

More than Rs 1000 crore has been spent from the national and state exchequers during the six years of administrative efforts to provide voters with electoral identity cards.

The Commission had come under flak from the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India which made audit observations on the huge expenditure incurred in the programme without any corresponding benefit being derived by the issue of the cards.

The step being taken in Haryana would not only end bogus voting and impersonation but enable the genuine voter to cast his vote, the commission said.


Bhiwani crucial for Bansi
From Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

BHIWANI, Feb 10 — The electoral battle for the seven Assembly constituencies of Bhiwani district is going to be crucial for the political survival of a former Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal. The Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) supremo is, indeed, acutely aware of this fact and is trying his best to bounce back in his home district.

Bhiwani, a traditional stronghold of Mr Bansi Lal, who is said to have carried out a lot of development works here, had returned all seven HVP nominees in 1996, including Mr Bansi Lal from his age-old constituency, Tosham, and Mr Somvir Singh, Mr Bansi Lal’s son-in-law, from Loharu. In 1991, six of the seven HVP nominees were victorious from the district.

However, cracks in the popular support for Mr Bansi Lal became visible during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, when Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Bansi Lal’s son and the HVP nominee from Bhiwani, scraped through by a paltry margin of less than 10,000 votes, a miserable performance if compared with his victory margin of about two lakh votes in the previous elections. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Mr Surinder Singh became third and secured more than two lakh votes less than Mr Ajay Chautala of the INLD who won the seat.

Rattled by the setbacks suffered by him in his home turf, the HVP supremo is gearing up to regain his hold over Bhiwani. ‘‘Despite his poor health, Mr Bansi Lal has been shuttling in Bhiwani for the past seven days,’’ said a local political observer.

The HVP chief’s move to shift from Tosham to Bhiwani however, seems to have backfired. The supporters of Mr Ram Bhajan, the sitting HVP representative from Bhiwani, were outraged by the denial of ticket to him and Mr Bansi Lal may lose some votes for this decision.

The presence of Mr Dharamvir Singh, who got more votes than Mr Surinder Singh in Tosham in the past two Lok Sabha elections, has believed to have led Mr Bansi Lal to shift to Bhiwani. Mr Surinder Singh is now the HVP nominee from Tosham against Mr Dharamvir Singh. The latter, a Congress candidate, is obviously in an extremely confident frame of mind following the HVP stalwart’s unexpected retreat from the battle. The act by Mr Bansi Lal is also talked about by the politically inclined section of the people here and no one is ready to accept Mr Bansi Lal’s explanation that he wants to show Mr Dharamvir Singh that he himself does not need to contest from Tosham for defeating the Congress nominee.

For the HVP supremo, the battle has also become tough for the HVP’s reduced status in Haryana. On earlier occasions Mr Bansi Lal was projected as the future Chief Minister which had attracted a large number of voters. This time, the HVP chief is trying to go around by giving the impression that he has a tacit understanding with the Congress.

In case of a hung Assembly, the Congress will need his support and he will once again call the shots in Haryana, Mr Bansi Lal is apparently trying to convey this to the voters.

What has given some credibility to Mr Bansi Lal’s claim is the choice of candidates by the Congress. At least in four constituencies in Bhiwani district the Congress has allegedly fielded weak candidates. Bhiwani, Dadri, Badhra and Loharu are stated to be the constituencies where the Congress has sacrificed its prospective nominees to pave the way for the HVP.

Also an important aspect of the Bhiwani poll scenario is the presence of the ‘‘rebel’’ candidates. Mr R.S. Mann and Mr Jagjit Sangwan, both from the Congress, are contesting as Independent candidates from Badhra and Dadri, respectively. They were both denied the ticket by the Congress at the last moment.

At Bhiwani Khera, the BJP nominee has among his rivals Mr Amar Singh Dhanak, an INLD rebel. At the Bhiwani seat, which has gone to the BJP under the BJP-INLD seat-sharing arrangement, an Independent candidate, Ms Poonam Sangwan, is claiming that she has the blessings of Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

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