EC orders repolling in parts of Tripura
May 9, 2019
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has ordered re-election in 168 polling stations in 26 assembly constituencies at Tripura West constituency. This is after opposition parties in the state raised charges of massive booth capturing and violence.
Polling was held on 11 April at West Tripura as part of the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. In a statement, the EC said, "polls taken on 11th April, 2019 (Thursday) at 168 polling stations … to be void and appoints the 12th May, 2019 (Sunday) and fixes the hours from 7 AM to 5 PM for taking a fresh poll".
The Tripura West Lok Sabha seat had recorded a voter turnout of 83%. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had demanded re-polling in 774 of the 1,679 booths, where voting was held. The Congress, too, alleged violations by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in several booths, and asked for the resignations of S Taranikanti, Tripura's chief electoral officer, and director general of police AK Shukla.
A majority of voters could not exercise their franchise on April 11 and the Election Commission of India should take steps to allow them to enjoy their constitutional rights. We demand that the Election Commission issues instructions for re-polling in these booths. Moreover, if the Commission feels the need to conduct re-polls in the entire West Tripura constituency, we will surely welcome it. - Goutam Das, Secretary CPI(M)
The CPI(M) also alleged that footage of CCTV cameras installed in the polling booths was examined in their absence and asked that this should be done in the presence of all political parties.
The Congress also brought similar charges. "Our party delegation met deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain and said none of our party representatives was present during the video footage's scrutiny by the chief electoral officer of Tripura. We believe the report sent by the state election authority was submitted to ECI with the intention of suppressing the real fact of mass rigging. For this, we demand that a fresh poll in the West Tripura constituency should be done, said Rahul Saha, Congress secretary.
The BJP has accused the CPI(M) and the Congress of being involved in a conspiracy to delay polling. The ECI had postponed voting in the Tripura East Lok Sabha seat in the third phase to 23 April from 18 April, saying the prevailing law-and-order situation was not conducive for holding a free and fair election.