The Election Commission on Thursday refuted a claim by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sanjeev Balyan, who had alleged earlier in the day that fake voting was taking place in his constituency because poll officials were not checking the identities of burqa-clad voters.
“If someone comes in a burqa, whether the same person is coming four or five times, how will you check,” Balyan told the media in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. “Without checking the face, how can you allow anyone to cast vote.”
Balyan complained that in some booths, there were no women officers to verify the identities of voters in burqas. ANI quoted him as saying, “Faces of women in burkhas are not being checked and I allege that fake voting is being done. If not looked into, I will demand a repoll.”
The Election Commission rubbished the allegations. “Already there is a mechanism in place that district magistrates have deployed women officials to ascertain the identity of female voters,” UP Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwarlu told PTI. “Wherever there are burqa-clad women voters, women poll officials are posted to ascertain their identity.”
Balyan is fighting to retain his Lok Sabha seat from Muzaffarnagar. The other key candidate from this seat is Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ajit Singh. The BJP leader is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots cases. Around 62 people were killed when communal clashes broke out in the Uttar Pradesh district between August and September that year.
Ninety-one Lok Sabha seats across 18 states and two Union Territories are voting on Thursday in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Six more phases will be held, with the voting process ending on May 19. The results will be announced on May 23.
The states going to the polls today include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep, among others.