With the dates for Lok Sabha elections coming near, new shocking data are pouring in with the passing time. In a shocking revelation, around three crore Muslims out of 11 crore eligible voters in the country are missing from the electoral rolls, says a study by Missing Voter App. Along with this, it also says that four crore Dalits out of some 20 crore eligible Dalit voters were missing from the rolls. Adding more woes, even 21 million women are missing from the list.
The data released by 38-year-old software wiz Khalid Saifullah – founder of the Missing Voter App and CEO of the Hyderabad based RayLabs – states that 15 per cent of all voters and 25 per cent Muslims are not present on the electoral list. So, after calculations, approximately 12.7 crores of all voters and three crores Muslims will not be able to vote in Lok Sabha elections, due in the May 2019.
Reason for Being Missed:
Explaining the reason for missing names in the electoral rolls, Saifullah said at the 3rd National Leadership Summit 2019 in New Delhi that though the process to make a new voter id is simpler, many politicians were misusing the Form 7 to remove voters from the lists.
Asked the reason for the missing names of Muslims from the list, Washington’s U.S.-India Policy Institute founder Abusaleh Shariff said, “There can be many reasons. One is not getting into the politics of it, but the exclusion could be because the people at the block level may not be doing their job well. There are cultural and linguistic differences.”
Adding on, he said, “Many Muslims give their ages in Urdu rather than English. Thus, discrepancies creep in age data at the time of enrolment itself.” He also agreed that there is a strong possibility of a systemic bias against Muslims which, at times, even leads to the exclusion of the entire community or a locality from a constituency, reports Sabrang.
One Out of Four Missing:
A few days ago, The Hindu Frontline reported, “If you are a Muslim in Uttar Pradesh with four voters in your family, the chances are that only three will get to exercise their right to a franchise granted by Article 326 of the Constitution. The fourth person’s name would either be missing or excluded from the electoral rolls.”
Also, the reports add that the situation worsens when you travel south. It adds, “In Tamil Nadu, too, every fourth Muslim person’s name is found missing from electoral rolls. The situation in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is not any better; nor in Gujarat and Karnataka, from where the first voices were heard about Muslim names missing from electoral rolls.”
Compared to last Lok Sabha elections, the participation of Muslims in democracy had declined, as fear about discrimination, political exclusion, total elimination and so on, escalated. The Hindu report stated, “In Karnataka, the names of 6.6 million people were reportedly missing from the electoral list; later, about 1.2 million were re-enlisted. The names of members of other communities also go missing, but the figures are significantly higher for Muslims—15 per cent for other communities and 25 per cent for Muslims.”
Missing 21 Million Women Voters:
This year around 21 million women won’t vote for the Union government, when the rest 90 million would choose to do so. Not because these women don’t want, but due to the sheer absence of their names in the voting list, reports BBC.
Among the primary states which account for the maximum missing women voter include – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan – where more than half of the women population won’t vote. However, southern states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu fare better.
The report states that about 38,000 missing women are missing from the voters’ list on an average in every constituency in India. And more surprisingly, the missing number of women voters in UP surges to 80,000 per seat, on an average.
The BBC reports states, “Given that more than one in every five seats are won or lost by a margin of fewer than 38,000 votes, the missing women could swing the results in many seats. The absence of a large number of women also means that India’s electorate would be higher than the 900 million people who are eligible to vote in the summer elections. If the sex ratio in a constituency is skewed against women and the average voter is male, the preferences of female voters are likely to be ignored.”
With enough people – Muslims, Dalits and Women – missing in the electoral list, the fate of country on May 23 would speak for the majority, however, the situation in the minorities’ lives might remain the same. It is upto the Election Commission how they bridge the gap, but the thin line for democracy perhaps has become thicker for the minorities in India, with the changing times.