A statement by senior BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi that the next assembly elections in the state could be held Online has created storms in the political circles of Bihar. For the past three days, Modi has been frequently discussing the idea of “digital polling” through the media, evoking strong protests from the Opposition parties. The elections are scheduled for October-November this year.
“It is certain that the elections can’t be held in the conventional manner due to the Corona fear. They could be held on the line of recently held polling in South Korea which strictly maintained social distance at the polling booth,” Modi told the local media. He even claimed that the Election Commission has been working on this idea much before the Corona pandemic rocked the world.
However, the Opposition parties have strongly opposed to the statement of the BJP leader describing it as an attempt to deny the common, poor voters of their democratic rights. They alleged the conspiracy is being hatched to ensure the angry migrant workers who returned to their homes on foot from various Indian cities don’t participate in the voting process.
“A huge population of Bihar still lives in villages, is illiterate, doesn’t own smartphones with internet facilities and is just not comfortable with technology. That means they won’t be taking part in the poll process if the polling was held online,” state CPI(M) secretary Awadhesh Kumar told The Statesman. He said the BJP people were talking of conducting Online polling to put pressure on the Election Commission which they would oppose tooth and nail.
Another prominent left party, the CPI-ML, alleged the move is an attempt to snatch the voting rights of the poor and Dalits who have been vocal against the government and want to settle scores for backing out of the poll promises. “The BJP has been trying hard to conduct elections online to prevent the poor, deprived and the Dalit community from participating in the poll process but we will oppose it strongly,” state CPI-ML secretary Kunal said. He said only a small section of the poor own smartphones but the majority are not aware of using technology.
The Congress party also slammed the idea of Online voting. “This is an attempt to rig the polls. Let the Election Commission decide over it,” Congress spokesperson Premchandra Mishra said.