There are reports that say that slum dwellers from Navi Mumbai are being offered cash anywhere from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per head to cast bogus votes in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election on Feb 16.
Sources have revealed that the rates depend on the wards where the bogus votes needs to be cast. More post the area, the cash on offer is automatically hiked. The source added, "Bogus voting takes place in most elections. With Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and BMC polls around the corner, groups of bogus voters from Airoli, Digha, Rabale and Turbhe in Navi Mumbai are set to become active."
With agents planning the whole scene where the bogus voters are brought in from their homes and dropped back after the voting is done, the source commented, "Politicos offer money to agents in bulk with instructions to get the desired results. The agents ensure that the bogus voters are kept happy by offering them liquor and snacks, etc until they cast their vote."
Rajiv Chaugule, Shiv Sena corporator and chairman of the civic law committee agreed to the claims and said that bogus voters come not just from Navi Mumbai, but also from other parts of the state when polls are declared. He said, "Some parties indulge in such malpractices because it is not mandatory for voters to carry a photo identity proof. If the election commission asks for ration card as identity proof, how will one know if the voter is genuine? Even 2% of bogus voting can be a deciding factor in a particular ward.”
A senior BJP corporator also stated on conditions of anonymity that there is discrimination here too, where agents are offered huge amounts of money and they in turn offer a pittance to the bogus voters. He said, "The funds provided to agents depend on a candidate’s financial capacity." He said that there was also a nexus between polling agents of parties and booth officials.
State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan commented on the trend, "We are eliminating every possibility of bogus voting. We are marking names which have appeared twice on a list. Names of the deceased too are being marked. So, we are ensuring that only genuine voters are part of the list prepared for the civic elections."