Incidents of polling officials ‘favouring BJP’ reported in Assam, Manipur

The northeastern states will go to polls on  April 19 and 26, and May 7.

As India gears up for the seven-phased 17th Lok Sabha elections starting on April 19, two incidents of election officials allegedly favouring the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have come forward from the northeastern states of the county.

According to a report by The Wire, the first incident occurred in Imphal East of Manipur.

H Suresh Sharma, the election agent of A Bimol Akoijam, the opposition Congress candidate in the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat, wrote a letter to the election commission stating indiscrepancies in the voting process of a 93-year-old elderly woman named Wangkheirakpam Manu Devi belonging from Chingmeirong Maning Leikei area.

MS Education Academy

Devi casted her vote using the special provision by the ECI which enables senior citizens above the age of 85 years and physically disabled persons to cast their vote from the comfort of their homes. The polling began on April 7 with several Booth Level Officers (BLOs) visiting the homes of those who can’t physically vote.

“As reported, she was asked to cast her vote only in favour of the candidate listed as Sl. No. 2 by the above mentioned BLO. The said BLO also told her that she would be rewarded with ‘Nga Chanaba’ money for doing so,” the letter dated April 6 read. Nga Chanaba is a local terminology translating to ‘money to buy fish’.

The letter further states that the said candidate was Basanta Singh, a BJP candidate contesting from the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency.

On April 8 a probe was initiated against the BLO. The complaint was later found “devoid of concrete tangible evidence” against the BLO. However, the BLO was replaced by another.

A similar incident took place in Assam’s Tinsukia district. The state chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on March 7 claimed that the saffron party is confident of winning 22 of the 25 Parliamentary seats.

A month after, on April 7, Tinsukia district commissioner and district election officer Swapneel Paul told reporters, “A polling team was engaged for the purpose of home voting through postal ballot in 82-Doomdooma Assembly Segment under 12-Lakhimpur HPC, comprising Partha Pratim Bhattacharjee, senior branch manager (retd), Assam Gramin Vikash Bank as micro-observer, Bishnubrat Hazarika, lecturer, Tinsukia Polytechnic, and Monjyoti Chetia.”

“When the team submitted the polled postal ballot and the booklet containing counterfoils and un-polled postal ballot papers, it was found that 16 counterfoils had been used for 14 voters,” he said.

Swapneel Paul said that all polling officers and micro observers have been discharged from all polling duties with immediate effect.

In the 2019 general elections, BJP and its allies had won 18 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from the Northeast. This year, the northeastern states will go to polls on 7 April 19 and 26, and May 7.

Back to top button