Mnp Cong rally against electoral malpractices

Correspondent IMPHAL, NOV 9 | Publish Date: 11/9/2020 1:07:35 PM IST

Hundreds of Congress supporters organised a protest rally in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district headquarters, highlighting alleged rampant electoral malpractices during November 7 by-polls.

Kangpokpi’s Saitu (ST) seat was among the four Assembly segments where the ECI conducted by-polls on November 7. The counting of votes will commence from Tuesday at 8 a.m.

With strong allegations of rampant electoral malpractices like proxy voting and intimidating voters by armed groups under suspension of operation (SoO) to cast votes in favour of the BJP candidate, the Congress has been pressing to conduct re-polls in as many as 10 polling stations.

Alleging that the Returning Officer (RO) of the by-poll failed to heed to the re-poll demand, hundreds of Congress supporters mostly youth carried out the rally at Kangpokpi district headquarters.

They demanded orders for re-poll at the said polling stations to be issued immediately during the rally carried out under a giant banner inscribed with, “We want immediate re-poll”, “Biren Govt.+DGP+KNO/KRA+KNO/KNA+KNO/USRA vs one Little Boy” etc. 

Other placards displayed during the rally read, “Our electoral rights at stake”, “Our future at stake”, “Shame on BJP led Govt.”, “Shame on SoO groups”, “We oppose threatening, am I next?”, “We oppose gun politics”, “Gun politics lead to Hell”, “Stop booth capturing”, “Puppet Returning Officer”, etc..

The rally organized by Manipur Pradesh Youth Congress Committee and participated by Congress candidate Lamtinthang Haokip himself kick-started from Thomas Ground and marched towards the DC office. During the entire rally, the participants shouted various slogans like “We want immediate re-poll”, “BJP Government- down, down”, “Returning Officer-Down, Down”, “Assam Rifles-bodyguard of UGs” and “Commandos-bodyguard of UGs”, etc.

In the office chamber of the DC who is also the District Electoral Officer (DEO), the Congress candidate accompanied by his chief election agent and few other supporters met the RO and showed video clips as evidence of electoral malpractices during the by-poll.

Even as the candidate informed about lodging a written complaint by him and his party (Congress), to the CEO Manipur, the RO “blatantly” denied that he was not aware of it. 

The RO said that as per the guideline, he had verified the voters’ register, accounts of votes, presiding officers’ dairy and any other complaints received from the sector officers and based on it, he had recommended for counting of the votes without any proposal of re-poll. 

He added that it was upto the ECI to decide whether re-poll would be held or not.

However, the Congress candidate objected to the presiding officers’ report of various polling stations by producing the voters’ slips who were denied their franchise rights on the polling day.

After coming out of the DEO office chamber, Lamtinthang Haokip said that despite earnest appeal, the RO outrightly rejected his plea with a strong allegation that the RO acted on behalf and under instruction of chief minister N Biren Singh.

He continued that the RO acted in such manner fearing that all the video footages in the polling day will certainly reveal all the unconstitutional and undemocratic activities inside the polling stations such as selected few voters under the instruction of KNO/KRA, KNO/KNA, KNO/USRA under SoO.

He alleged that no voters who supported Congress candidate were allowed to enter the polling stations to franchise their rights.

“We are against the scheduled vote counting tomorrow until all video footages in all the polling booths are provided to us and if the vote counting is still not rescheduled and re-poll is held as demanded, we will take legal action and law will take its own course of action”, he said.

He added, “We will not spare anyone including the government indulging in the unconstitutional and undemocratic act in the by-election.”

Mention may be made that Congress had already lodged a written complaint to the ECI through state CEO demanding re-poll in as many as 10 polling stations in respect of the Saitu Assembly segment.

Meanwhile, the desk for counting of votes for the by-polls in four Assembly segments held on November 7 was cleared. The counting of votes will be held at the district headquarters of each district.

An official source said that the counting of votes will be held in 10 halls from 8 a.m. tomorrow at their respective district headquarters.


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