Photo voters' lists planned for 2017 gurdwara polls

The ruling AAP is gearing up to test the waters in the city gurdwara polls in 2017 and pushing for foolproof photo electoral rolls as the outcome of the contest may have a bearing on its performance in the Punjab Assembly polls.

The Aam Aadmi Party government’s Directorate of Gurdwara Elections has been tasked to recheck the electoral rolls comprising names of over 4.5 lakh Sikh voters before releasing the final voters’ list by March 2, 2016.

“There are loopholes in the system which may facilitate irregularities in the elections. The photo voter rolls will help check alleged impersonation on voting day,” said DSGMC senior vice president Mohinder Paul Singh Chadha of the Akali Dal.

By rough estimates, 40 per cent of the entries in the existing rolls are fictitious, said Chadha, who slammed the Delhi government for laxity in implementing the photo voter lists ahead of the 2013 polls. “The photos and forms submitted before the last elections were never used by the government and are still lying with the gurdwara directorate,” he said.

An elaborated timeline for the various tasks related to the photo electoral rolls has now been prepared. “An e-tender will be floated by August 31 to hand over the task of making the electoral rolls with photos for the gurdwara polls,” said an official, adding that the work may be allotted by October 5.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee is currently controlled by the Akali Dal (Badal). Earlier this week, Minister for Gurdwara Elections Kapil Mishra was given a presentation by the Directorate on the preparations for the 2017 polls.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s directions in 2012 to use electoral rolls with photos, nothing has been done yet,” said Mishra. Officials said the minister noted that there was a scope for wrongdoings during the elections if photo rolls are not used.

An AAP leader said the ruling party wants to use its four Sikh legislators and the major players in the party’s debut in the gurdwara elections. “In a way, the DSGMC polls would be semi-finals ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls in January-February 2017,” said Rajouri Garden legislator Jarnail Singh. 

Chadha said AAP’s entry into gurdwara polls will further split the votes and benefit Akali Dal (Badal). The DSGMC comprises 51 members, one member representing each of the 46 wards. On an average, there are about 10,000 voters in every ward. The committee also has five nominated members. It is governed by a chairman and a president, as per Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1971.

Apart from looking after the gurdwaras, the DSGMC also manages various educational institutions, hospitals, old age homes, libraries and other charitable institutions.

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