Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Kejriwal returns from airport to vote, but name not on list

New Delhi After urging the entire country to vote, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal created a flutter this morning when he left his Ghaziabad home to attend election meetings in Goa without casting his vote. Strident criticism from various quarters forced him to return from the airport — only to be told that his name did not figure in the voters’ list and neither did those of his family members. None of them could finally cast their vote.

He apologised, even as his colleague Kumar Vishwas launched a tirade against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and General Secretary Rahul Gandhi for not being registered voters of their respective Parliamentary constituencies.

“In a country where the prime minister himself is a back-door entrant how can we expect front-door entrants to be heard. Neither Rahul nor Sonia voted in Amethi or Rae Bareily because they are not even registered in the constituencies from where they won. Why then is Arvind Kejriwal not voting such a big issue? He was working for the greater good of the nation. How is it that the entire family, which has been voting all these years, was deleted from the list?” said Vishwas.

Kejriwal’s departure in the morning, his hasty retreat and the final inability to vote elicited snide comments on Twitter from Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh. “Great protectors of probity in public life. Anna doesn’t go to vote. Kejriwal doesn’t care to see whether he is registered as voter. Obviously, Team Anna doesn’t practise what it preaches! They should clarify whether they believe in Democracy or not,” Singh tweeted.

Former IPS officer and Kejriwal’s fellow member of the India Against Corruption core committee, Kiran Bedi jumped to his rescue, tweeting about how absence of names on the voters list is a wider problem and it is time the Election Commission — top officials of which Team Anna met just a few days back demanding right to reject — put the lists on the Internet so that people can check in advance whether their names are included.

Kejriwal left his Indirapuram home for the airport in the morning saying he could not cast his vote because of prior commitments in Goa but his family would. When he returned to the designated polling booth he said: “I was feeling guilty while leaving in the morning. Then, from the airport I called up the organisers of two meetings who said they were willing to postpone them. That is why I came back. Now I find my name is not on the voters’ list. It was there earlier, I have always cast my vote and that is why I did not check beforehand,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal would “take up” the matter of the voters’ list on his return from Goa, he said.

Umesh Sinha, Chief Electoral officer (UP), said he would inquire into the matter. He added that the voters should ensure beforehand that their names were in the list.