Residents of Anekal, Attibele, and Sarjapura, who want to register to vote are reportedly being denied their right to do so.
Despite having applied several months in advance, these residents of the Anekal constituency allege that government officials in the constituency have rejected over a hundred applications for new voter ID cards.
While residents insist that their documents are in order, officials have stated that they need to submit Form 7 to obtain their IDs. Sources allege however, that this demand for Form 7 is just a garb to prevent urban voters from voting in the election.
A few resident groups in the area have submitted applications en mass in the hopes that it would yield favourable results. However, this does not seem to be helping.
“Some residents had contacted an official from the Election Commission, who confirmed that Form 7 is not required. But he couldn't help us because he had been transferred. Even though we went to the poll booth and showed them all the particulars and told them that Form 7 is not required, they still didn't accept our applications,” says Vinayaka Reddy*, whose application for a ward change was one of those rejected, on condition of anonymity.
Himanshu Bhalla, a Sarjapura resident who has been living in Bengaluru since 2003, holds a voter ID card registered in the HSR Layout constituency.
“I went to a voter ID drive in my area and the official who was accepting applications told me that I needed to submit Form 7. So, I got the number of another official who insisted that Form 7 was not required. I went online too, but there is no clarity on how to go ahead with this procedure,” he told TNM.
Form 7, according to the Election Commission website, is necessary only for the cancellation of an existing voter ID card and is not required to procure a new one or change details in an existing one.
Ironically however, this demand does not even spare those who have previously never held a voter ID.
Ankit Malhotra*, an IT professional living near Anekal since 2004, has been trying to obtain a voter ID card for years but to no avail.
“I showed them all the required documents, but they told me that I had to submit Form 7. I asked them why, because I do not have a voter ID. I explained to them that I had tried multiple times to obtain my voter ID. When they asked me where I was from, I told them I was from Varanasi, UP. Then they said that I needed to go to my constituency and get a written application saying that I never had a valid voter ID there,” he told TNM.
However, voters who wish to apply for new cards or change their constituency or ward on their existing cards only need to submit Form 6, which Ankit says he did. Despite his efforts, though, his application has been rejected this time as well.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad offered no further comment except that no rejections happen as long as the necessary documents are in place. He also denied the allegations of irregularities made by residents above.
Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj meanwhile, said that he would look into the matter. “Applicants can apply till April 14. I am not aware of this but I will look into it,” he said.