The Times of India reported on July 22 that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had written to India’s Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora regarding linking voter IDs with the Aadhaar number. The report quoted Fadnavis as saying “that this linkage will help prevent bogus and ensure that there is proper identification of voters”. A subsequent report on July 26 quoted Election Commission of India (ECI) sources as saying that linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs may not be feasible prior to the Maharashtra state assembly elections. Both reports mention plans of amending the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, allowing for such linking.
We believe this is a cause for continued concern, especially since the Maharashtra government is pushing Aadhaar-voter ID linking through the state’s Chief Electoral Officer’s website and mobile application. Citizens must therefore remain vigilant in protesting large-scale linking of Aadhaar and voter IDs. The Cambridge Analytica episode in the US revealed the dangers of voter profiling. In Andhra Pradesh earlier this year, the Telugu Desam Party was accused of misusing Aadhaar and demographic data – including names, photographs, caste information, and family details – of 3.7 crore voters.
More than 1,000 civil society organisations and concerned citizens have signed a letter demanding that the Maharashtra State government immediately halt use of the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar authentication for any processed connected with the state elections. Some of the chief concerns stated in the letter include:
- The Maharashtra Government has transferred money for subsidies and welfare benefits through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts which constitutes direct targeting of voters and is therefore a corrupt practice per Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- Further, Aadhaar linking has eased authorizing election expenditure in contravention of Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, by allowing fund transfers to Aadhaar numbers in control of unknown persons.
- The use of the Aadhaar number, or documents obtained solely using Aadhaar, to add and delete electors has enabled taking possession of a polling station by allowing only their own supporters to exercise their right to vote and or preventing others from exercising their right to vote. This is tantamount to booth capturing as per Section 135A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The full letter, including the complete list of signatories, will be made public on August 15, on the 73rd day of independence when we call for #AadhaarMuktBharat. #AadhaarSeAzaadi
- Please send your endorsement at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not yet signed the letter but would like to endorse.
We also request those interested to send us a short video of yourself endorsing our call for #AadhaarMuktBharat and demanding that CM Fadnavis terminate the Aadhaar project in Maharashtra entirely.