As a part of our voter list research related to the Uttar Pradesh demographic population, while trying to categorize the voters in terms of the caste based vote bank towards the respective parties, we observed that in the latest voter lists have mainly the first names of the voters and their surnames are missing.
If I give you statistical figures than in a random constituency say Barthana in Etawah district having around 3.8 lakh voters, 2.1 lakh voters i.e. 55% voters have only their first names mentioned in the latest electoral rolls available on the website of State Election Commission of Uttar Pradesh. 45% of the voters have their full names mentioned.
When we did this exercise for the entire electorate of UP, we found that as large as 60% of the voters have only their first names mentioned in the respective voter lists of their booths. UP has around 13.5 crore voters as of today.
Amongst male voters: 56% have just their first names, 15% have Kumar as their second names. So essentially 29% male voters have non Kumar surnames. Similarly, amongst female voters: 65% have just their first names, 19% write Devi as their second name and 3% are Kumari’ in surnames. These figures are at UP state level. None of these surnames amongst males or females says anything of their caste.
This name related tweaking by Election Commission does not impact the voter identification and tracking as each voter has unique EPIC number using which voter is still identified but omission of surnames hides any hint of the caste of the voter. Can such a move by Election Commission shift the political strategy discourse away from caste? Or is it just advantageous to old established parties while newer parties and candidates are in disadvantageous position? These are some of the questions whose answer will unfold as election moves towards final laps.