7 National and 34 State political parties urged the Election Commission of India (pdf) to link Voter IDs with the Aadhaar card to weed out duplicate voter names. The ECI convened an all-party meeting with the parties to discuss electoral reforms, ahead of the upcoming elections in four states this year and the Lok Sabha elections next year.
The ECI said that it would look into all the suggestions from the political parties and respond to them.
Linking Aadhaar for removing duplicates and bonafide
On its website, the BJP suggested linking of Aadhaar to a citizen’s voter ID for:
– De-duplicating voters and
– The ‘feasibility of alternative methods to vote for migrant voters such as postal, proxy, absentee, early and e-voting ballots to facilitate the electoral participation of domestic migrants.’
Earlier this year, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O.P. Rawat said that Voter ID linking with the Aadhaar database would resume when the Supreme Court gave its nod. He said that 32 crore Voter IDs were linked with Aadhaar in just three months.
In 2015, the ECI launched a National Electoral Roll Purification & Authentication Programme (NERPAP) to link it to the Aadhaar database. However, an interim order from the Supreme Court in August 2015 prevented linking of Aadhaar to voter rolls. The SC said Aadhaar was only meant for delivery of PDS and LPG distribution scheme. The courts have held in multiple cases that Aadhaar is not a proof of citizenship, but an identity which proves residence.
Paid news and social media
The political parties also “expressed concern on Paid News and suggested to make it an
electoral offence to curb this menace.” They asked the ECI to consider giving it free airtime on private media channels for electoral campaigns.
Similarly, the BJP also said that social media companies must scrutinise fake news on their platforms prior to elections. It added that “partial election silence” may be permitted 48 hours before polls, when the Model Code of Conduct comes into effect. The Congress suggested that the ECI draft conduct rules for online ads and/or propaganda along with penalties for fake news and divisive content. It has also called for the ECI to set up a response department to handle and monitor spread of fake content.
Political ads appearing in print media are exempt from the Model Code of Conduct. Under the Representation of People Act 1951, content related to elections cannot run “by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus.