Agartala: The Opposition CPI-M and Congress are seeking directions from the Supreme Court against the Election Commission (EC) decision to hold repolling on May 12 in only 168 polling stations under the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat, instead of in the entire constituency, leaders of these parties said on Thursday.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Congress have been demanding fresh polling in the entire Tripura West parliamentary constituency after they alleged large-scale rigging, booth capturing, intimidation and attacks by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their goons during the first phase of polling in the State on April 11.
The BJP, however, has dismissed the allegations and demanded the removal of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sriram Taranikanti, accusing him of being a “conspirator”.
“Our lawyers on Thursday have mentioned our election petition in the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Accepting our petition, the CJI said that the case would not be heared urgently and hence no date of hearing was fixed accordingly,” Left Front Convenor Bijan Dhar told reporters here.
“When the Returing Officer to the Tripura West constituency in his report to the EC has himself admitted that the election process was vitiated in 433 of the 1,679 polling stations, why has EC decided to hold re-poll only in 168 polling booths?” asked Tripura Congress president Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarman.
“Senior Congress leaders and lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Jairam Ramesh are doing the legal process to seek a direction from the apex court against the EC’s unjustified decision”, he added.
After a multi-level inquiry, the EC on Wednesday announced re-polling in 168 of the total of 1,679 polling stations under the Tripura West constituency on May 12 as electoral malpractices were found to have taken place during the April 11 voting.
An EC letter to the CEO said that on the basis of reports of the CEO, the Special Observer, the General Observers and the Returning Officer, the Commission has declared the April 11 voting at 168 polling stations to be void and fixed May 12 as the date for holding fresh polls.
Allegations of malpractices, intimidation and violence during the April 11 polling in the seat forced the EC to appoint former Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi as Special Observer for Tripura and remove Returning Officer Sandeep Mahatme and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Rajiv Singh.
The CEO had earlier said that an unprecedented number of election officials were suspended from service and a large number of FIRs filed by the Assistant Returning Officers against Micro Observers, Polling Officers and political activists who either indulged in malpractices or remained mute spectators during this period.
Dhar, who is also the member of the CPI-M Central Committee, said that the Left parties would continue to hold rallies across the state in support of their demand for fresh polling in the entire constituency.
“Protest rallies were also held on Thursday against massive unfair activities in the April 11 polling and demanding fresh polling in the entire Tripura West Lok Sabha seat,” he added.
State CPI-M secretary Gautam Das said that it was unprecedented in the electoral history of India that repolling has been ordered by the Commission in only 10 per cent of the 1,679 polling stations, which is a negligible number since the booth capturing and malpractices occurred in majority of the polling booths. (IANS)
Also read: Tripura news