February 20, 2018
Shri Nilotpal Basu, member of the Central Secretariat of Communist Party of India (Marxist) met Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Om Prakash Rawat, today and expressed certain concerns regarding Tripura Assembly election. The Chief Election Commissioner assured that these concerns will be seriously looked into. We are herewith attaching the text of the letter submitted to the CEC and the representation of Tripura State Committee, CPI(M).
We are constrained to draw your attention to certain critical issues pertaining to the Assembly elections of Tripura held on February18, 2018.
Despite expressing our concerns over the presence of outsiders, major display of money power and on the functioning of the EVM – VVPAT units, some substantial issues have arisen in course of the polling.
We are hereby forwarding a detailed representation by the CPI(M) Tripura State Committee which has already been marked to you. But to further highlight the issues, we are urging your immediate intervention on these critical questions.
Member, Central Secretariat
Text of CPI(M) Tripura State Committee’s letter to Chief Election Commissioner
19th February, 2018
The General Elections to Tripura Legislative Assembly was held yesterday (18.2.2019) maintaining by and large the state’s tradition of high turnout in a peaceful festive atmosphere except some untoward incidents of attack, intimidation, prevention in coming to polling booths etc. But yesterday’s election in the state raises many questions and suspicions in the minds of the people.
1. Firstly, there were failure of EVMs (the entire apparatus of control unit, ballot unit and VVPAT) in large number of booths. Out of 3174 polling booth of 59 Assembly segments, EVMs got disordered in 519 polling booths i.e. 16.35% which is really unusual. In some booths the machines were first tried to repair. Even after repairment the EVMs got repeatedly out of order. Large number of machines, either Control unit or ballot unit or VVPATs were replaced by another units. In many booths, even the replaced units also failed to function properly.
2. The voters started coming in the booth from dawn. Due to EVM disorder in many Booths polling could not be started in time. In some booths polling had to be started 3/4 hours late. Naturally the voters queue got longer. Being displeased over the delay many voters including aged and sick persons went back. However, some of them came to the booth in the later hours. Due to the EVM malfunction, in many booths polling continued even at midnight.
3. On 17th February, the previous evening of the poll day, the some Engineers, according to the state Election Authority, ECL Engineers, opened up all the ballot units of 58-Panisagar A/C, 12 ballot Units of of 56-Dharmanagar A/C and 3 of 57-Jubarajnagar A/C. This happened in absence of any political party representatives. This has created mystery because, after setting of candidates in the ballot unit in RO’s office, no one have the authority to open the machines. It is still mystery what did the Engineers do to the machines. Such opening up of machines was not required in any of the assembly segments where polling held on 18.2.2018. CPI(M) candidate and his election agent vehemently protested against this to the RO. From the CPI(M) state committee office clarification was sought from the Chief Electoral Officer, who said that due to shortage of Engineers they had started checking these EVMs from the pre-poll day evening. But why such check up of EVMs required only in 56-Dharmanagar A/C was not clarified. This is still a mystery.
Much before the poll day, CPI(M) was demanding to the state Election authority to strengthen area domination in some areas of 12-Takarjala(ST) A/C which was very troublesome. CPI(M) candidate was repeatedly obstructed during campaign period. Our supporters were threatened not to go out on poll day by the miscreants of IPFT(NC) whose core demand is to split the state and which is an electoral ally of the BJP. We put our submission in this regard even to the Special observer Mr. R.K. Panchananda on 17th February. In spite of that our apprehension came to be true on the poll day. Initially, our polling Agents were prevented from entering booths. A good number of our voters were prevented from going to the booths. Our party symbol in EVM was kept covered in two booths for a considerable time. In one polling booth our Polling Agent was forcibly driven out of the booth. We sought re-poll in following three booths of this A/C.
i) Booth No. 5, Ratanpur High School (Uttarangsha)
ii) Booth No. 6, Ratanpur High School (Dakshinangsha)
iii) Booth No. 37, Kupilong J. B. School (Paschimanganga)
4. In spite of the direction from the Election Commission India, the outsiders mostly from Assam, West Bengal and from some Hindi-speaking state stayed in Tripura on the poll day. Most of them were housed in various hotels, guest houses and houses of BJP leaders and workers. One Sri Pallav Lochan Das, a Minister of Assam was found hiding in a house at a remote village of Gandachhara with a heavy suitcase on 17th February night. Instead of taking legal step against him and searching the suitcase in his possession, the police let him go out of the state. On the poll day, BJP leader and Finance Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswasharma was found visiting the booth offices of his party at 4-Barjala(SC) constituency. One Ajoy Sharma, so called ‘Bistarak’ of the BJP, Assam unit, was arrested in 34-Rajnagar(SC) A/C from the house of BJP workers Ranjit Sarkar. Many BJP workers from outside the state hold up in many BJP offices including their state headquarters.
5. BJP Advertisement containing allurement and false contents alleging the Left Front and Left Front Government got certified by the MCMC even on 17 and 18th February. In one such Advertisement certified by MCMC, BJP informed that they would keep watch over 3000 polling booths through their own camera. Though there is no rule in the People’s Representatives Act, the MCMC allowed such Advertisement motivatedly to mislead the people so that the electors are scared of apprehending their secrecy of vote would not be secured.
6. Web casting system has been introduced in the state for the first time. This is to centrally monitor to the proceedings of poll in all the polling booths. Contract of the task was given to one company in Guzarat. The Contract-holder sub-let the task to Soumen Paul who happens to be state Committee member of BJP. Soumen Paul engaged his trusted BJP followers to cover webcasting in each booth of the state. BJP Advertisement indicated that BJP would keep watch over all the polling booths through these Webcasting cameras which are practically in the hands of the BJP workers. From the BJP Advertisement, we suspect that the BJP leaders got secret code or passwords to access the cameras which were recording the proceedings of the poll inside the polling booths. This is just unfair.
7. In the evening of poll day i.e. 18.2.2018, the election Agent of CPI(M) candidate from 17-Golaghati(ST) Sri Pulin Bardhan was attacked by the IPFT(NC) and he received grievous injury and the para-military forces launched an unproved attack on Left Front sponsored Forward Bloc candidate from 8-Town Bordwali constituency Sri Biswanath saha. Both are now under treatment in G.B. Hosptial.
8. In view of all these eventualities, we are demanding to your kind self to conduct a through inquiry into the violations of the People’s Representative Act. 1951 in this election in Tripura and urging upon you to count the VVPAT slips in following Assembly constituencies.
Tripura State committee