Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat has said that people who were excluded from the final draft list of citizens in Assam can vote as long as their name is on the electoral rolls. “The Election Commission will publish a voter list in January and will not wait for the final NRC,” Rawat told NDTV on Wednesday.
The election commissioner said anyone who has been left out of the draft NRC will continue to remain a voter if they can prove that they are a citizen of India, are at least 18 years old on January 2019, and are an ordinary resident in the Assembly constituency where they want to enrol from.
The final draft of the National Register of Citizens verifies 2.89 crore people, out of the 3.29 crore who had applied, as legal citizens of India. The stated aim of the counting exercise is to separate genuine Indian citizens from so-called illegal migrants who might be living in the state. According to the terms of the exercise, anyone who could not prove that they or their ancestors had entered the state before midnight on March 24, 1971, would be declared a foreigner.
“We will go by our motto that no voter must be left behind. Any eligible person in Assam must not be left behind from enrolling and voting. Our [state] chief electoral officer will work for that,” Rawat told The Indian Express.
Rawat also said that the poll panel has sought a detailed report from the Chief Electoral Officer of Assam on the draft NRC. State government officials have been asked to furnish a report within seven to 10 days, he told News18.
The draft of the NRC published on Monday has created concern among locals whose names were left out, while Opposition parties have accused the central government of using the register to divide society. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has said that its opponents are trying to politicise the matter, and has cited national security as its key concern.