M A I N   N E W S

EC takes Chhapra to Kalam
Got no letter: Bhardwaj
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 9
Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy accompanied by two Commissioners B.B. Tandon and N Gopalswami today met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in the wake of allegations made by senior IAS officer L.V. Saptarishi in countermanding Chhapra Lok Sabha polls.

EC sources said the poll panel submitted a copy of the report submitted by the special poll observer Saptarishi, the Commission’s reason for appointing a two-member team to probe electoral malpractice in the parliamentary segment and reasons for countermanding the polls. They also submitted the speaking report of the poll panel.

They also submitted a report dismissing the allegations of casteism levelled by Saptarishi, sources added.

Sources said Saptarishi in his report had suggested that repoll could be ordered in 172 polling booths even though the District Magistrate in his report had suggested repoll in 89 polling stations.

Further, the report indicated that both the BJP and the RJD indulged in booth capturing in the parliamentary segment.

Sources said the RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, when he appeared before the Commission, reportedly stated that the inquiry team of the poll panel had “given a clean” chit to the party and there was no need for countermanding the polls.

This, sources said, clearly indicated that the RJD chief had been privy to the information given to the EC.

The two-member inquiry team of the EC after examining the records concluded that there had been large scale and systematic rigging and suggested countermanding of elections.

Though the CEC’s meeting was meant to be a “farewell call”, the issue cropped up and the three Commissioners explained their position during the 30-minute meeting. Krishnamurthy retires on May 16 and Tandon will take charge as CEC the same day.

The EC had yesterday termed “scurrious and baseless” Saptarishi’s allegations.

Saptharishi alleged Tandon and Gopalaswami had put pressure to countermand the poll in Chhapra contested by RJD supremo and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and the then Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

The EC had contended the full Commission passed a unanimous quasi-judicial order on May 10 last year setting out in detail the reasons for countermanding Chapra elections.

PTI adds: In a new twist to the controversy, Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj today criticised the bureaucrat for making disparging comments against a constitutional authority and said it was for the concerned Ministry to examine whether disciplinary action was called for against him.

On the letter of L.V. Saptarishi, Bhardwaj told reporters “I have no such letter. I cannot tell you if there is any other Minister under whom he is working and he has that letter. He can certainly call for his (the civil servant’s) explanation.” Indicating that the bureaucrat might have breached the discipline by criticising the EC, the Law Minister said “it is not proper for a civil servant to criticise any constitutional authority. They come under certain discipline and they should adhere to that.” Bhardwaj’s comment fly in the face of his Cabinet colleague and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who had demanded that the Election Commissioners attacked by Saptarishi should resign.

Saptarishi, nearing his retirement, had claimed to have written a letter to Bhardwaj alleging that the repoll in Chhapra constituency, from where Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has been elected, was ordered last year at the behest of BJP leaders and had launched a broadside at the next Chief Election Commissioner over his alleged casteist remarks.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |