SHILLONG, Nov 28: While reiterating its opposition to the Election Commission using the 2011 census as a base for enrolling over 1.08 lakh voters in Meghalaya, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has stated that this opposition is because the 2011 census does not include only the indigenous population or genuine voters of the state.
“We have made it clear that we cannot accept this target because of the fact that the 2011 census does not include only the indigenous population or genuine voters of the state,” KSU general secretary Donald V Thabah said after meeting the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Frederick Roy Kharkongor here on Tuesday.
He also alleged that the 2011 population census also includes “illegal immigrants” and “outsiders”- who came working temporarily in the state.
Thabah informed that the union during the meeting also questioned whether the political parties have the authority to decide as to who are eligible voters and who are not.
Earlier during a meeting with political parties held on November 21, the election department had sought for their active involvement and cooperation in order to bridge the voters’ enrolment gap of 1.08 lakh ahead of the 2018 state elections.
The CEO informed of 1, 08,318, the gap in East Khasi Hills is 55,025, Ri Bhoi – 11,000 and 28,999 in West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills. The highest gap is in Nongkrem legislative assembly constituency (16,037) and in Tikrikilla constituency (6,608).
The huge gap is as per the projected population and the number of voters in the state adding that the current projected population the state is about 35 lakh (as per the census, 2011), he had stated.
The total enrolment of voters in the state stands at 17.68 lakh as on September 27, even as the election department had expressed optimism that by the time the elections are announced, the figure would touch 18 lakhs.
Thabah however said that the CEO had clarified that the target is not to enroll 1.08 lakh voters but the department will focus on the youth in the rural and border areas.
With regards to the role of the political parties in the enrolment process, the KSU leader informed, “He (CEO) clarified that the political parties will only help in educating the people on the laws on who can enroll in the electoral rolls of the state and that the political parties have no authority to decide on the matter.”
The KSU has also expressed strong opposition against the alleged attempts to illegally enroll outsiders in the electoral rolls of the state.
“We have also raised this issue especially those people who are above 30 years because the question is where these people disappeared all this while and why have they suddenly come for enrolment now,” Thabah said.
He said that the election department informed that they have introduced software to detect and delete names of “dual voters” from the electoral rolls of the state.
The names of as many as 24 persons, who are also voters in other states including Assam, have so far been detected and removed from the electoral roll in Dadenggre constituency in West Garo Hills District of the state.
“The CEO also assured that the department will further take up the matter seriously,” he said.
According to the KSU leader, the department has also engaged officials to conduct a house to house survey to ensure only genuine voters get enrolled in the electoral rolls.
Meanwhile on the issue whether people who have Aadhaar number can enroll as voters, Thabah said, “The election department maintained that Meghalaya is one of the states which are yet to accept Aadhaar enrolment.”