Overlooking conventional legislative norms, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Speaker Chadhary Prem Singh on Monday posed questions to Elections Minister Mangat Ram Singhal on irregularities in making election cards. The minister found it difficult to explain to the queries put by Dikshit and Singh and was cornered on the issue.
“This was the first time that both the CM and the Speaker asked questions from a minister and put him to defensive,” said an official, associated with the Assembly for the last almost 14 years.
The cross-questioning of Singhal began after Congress MLA Brahm Pal asked whether any scheme was being prepared to simplify the procedure of issuing voter identity cards. The minister replied that already five permanent centres have been established for the purpose.
After the minister read out the list of each constituency, Dikshit stood and asked that in her constituency of Gole Market, she was not even aware of such a centre though the minister claims it exists. “I do not know where has it been opened in Gole Market,” said Dikshit. The CM also ridiculed her own minister saying that he was talking about permanent centres for a long time but nothing much has been done on the ground.
The Speaker soon attacked the defenseless minister. “Thousands of people were turned away from the polling booths even though their name were there in the electoral rolls,” he said asking, “Why isn’t a ration card proof enough for voting?” The minister mumbled: “This was done at the instance of the Election Commission and we do not have any role in it”.
Deputy Speaker Shoaib Iqbal too was getting restless and said if passport and voting card are made on the basis of a ration card, why isn’t it considered a proof of identity? Singhal had become restless by this time. “Every voter in Delhi will have an Election Commission card by next Assembly election,” said the breathless minister.