The third gender voters are yet to come out of the closet to declare their genders in the voters’ lists.As of now 19 have registered themselves in the third gender category voters, for the upcoming assembly elections in the district. The district has 14.90 lakh voters as per the fresh list of eligible voters on December 31 including 7.79 lakh male and 7.10 lakh female voters.
In nine assembly segments, only one third gender voter has been registered in Phillaur, (Schedule Caste seat), Nakodar, Jalandhar North, Adampur (SC), two in Shahkot and Jalandhar central, three in Kartarpur while four in Jalandhar West (SC) and Jalandhar Cantonment.
The district election officials said, “The administration has been trying their best to ensure all such voters enrol themselves in a separate column as they enlist themselves in the category of male and female due to social stigma.”
They claimed, “We are encouraging people through awareness programmes and they can enlist as the third gender both as a candidate as well as voters in the third gender category.” “We have noticed that few people don't want to mention the third gender despite asking them to do so,” said the officials. Up to 2012 assembly elections, there was no separate provision for them.
NRI RESPONSE REMAINS LUKEWARM
Despite Jalandhar being one of the hubs of non-resident Indians (NRIs) the claims of state and central government about involving NRI’s in the country’s overall development, by giving them voting rights the move has received disappointing response this year too.As per the data obtained from district officials, only 11 NRIs have registered themselves as voters.
As per data there are over five lakh Punjabi NRIs as estimated by the local NRI Sabha. In 2010, the central government had announced the registration of overseas NRIs under the Representation of People Act, 1950. This was done by amending the law and including the name of NRIs in the electoral rolls of the constituency mentioned on their passports after proper verification.
Before the amendment, NRIs were given voting rights only if they had stayed in the constituency for at least nine months before the voting day. In the 2012 assembly elections, only three NRIs had registered for voting.
The final list of voters will be published on January 5, 2017, and the last date for registering themselves is January 2. However, total number of registered voters in Jalandhar were 13, 92,070 in the 2012 assembly elections which has now increased to 14, 90,055 voters.