M A I N   N E W S

Repoll in Chapra on May 31
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 10
RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav suffered a major blow today with the Election Commission deciding to countermand the poll in the Chapra parliamentary constituency in Bihar because of “silent booth-capturing” and mob violence.

Declaring the voting on April 26 in the constituency as “null and void”, Deputy Election Commissioner A. N. Jha said that fresh elections in the whole of the parliamentary constituency would be held on May 31 under “strict security measures” and the counting of votes would take place on June 2.

He said the report of the two-member inquiry team of the commission and evidence placed before the poll panel indicated silent booth-capturing with voters list being manipulated, and inadequate security arrangements had vitiated the atmosphere with mob violence in several places and a fear psychosis among the electorate.

The commission “is fully convinced and totally satisfied” that polling in all Assembly segments in the Chapra Lok Sabha seat was “vitiated,” the three-member body headed by Chief election Commissioner T. S. Krishna Murthy said in a unanimous decision.

The commission’s order came in the wake of complaints by BJP candidate and Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, pitted against RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav, that the election in the constituency was vitiated by large-scale violence by RJD supporters. Mr Rudy was supported in his contention by the SP and the BSP.

In its four-paged order, the commission said the poll had been “vitiated because of booth-capturing in a large number of polling stations in all Assembly segments of the constituency.”

Quoting the report of the two-member fact-finding team comprising Adviser K. J. Rao and Principal Secretary Anand Kumar that visited the constituency on May 2 and 3, the commission said it “reveals a very shocking state of affairs where even polling personnel connived with one party or the other to rig the poll in their favour.

“They were apparently so overawed that they did not take courage to report facts in their reports and diaries and became a party to the silent rigging”, the order said.

It further said the manner in which voters’ registers were manipulated by them (polling personnel), so as to cover their misconduct at the polling stations, examples of which were galore in the report of the inquiry team, “is a clear manifestation of their complicity and connivance in booth-capturing and vitiation of poll conducted by them”.

“The commission strongly condemns and deprecates the malpractices and rigging indulged in by the candidates and their supporters undermining the democratic process”, it added.

Patna: Bihar’s ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Monday said it would challenge in the Supreme Court the Election Commission’s decision to countermand poll in the Chapra parliamentary constituency.

RJD leader Bhola Prasad Singh said his party would file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the decision. “We will challenge the Election Commission’s decision to countermand poll in Chapra,” he said.

He described the poll panel’s decision as unconstitutional and claimed the commission had acted under “Undue pressure” from the BJP and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“It is unfortunate that the Election Commission ignored the reports of presiding officers, the special observer and the returning officer,” he said. — IANS



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