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Home > 2021 > Poll vault: Rambling notes | Sankar Ray

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 16, New Delhi, April 3, 2021

Poll vault: Rambling notes | Sankar Ray

Friday 2 April 2021, by Sankar Ray

A white coloured Mahindra XUV500 jeep (AS 10B 1022), owned by the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Patharkandi in Karimganj district in Assam was caught red-handed by people around for carrying electronic voting machines (EVM). This makes independent and politically unattached scribes like us deeply suspicious of the role of the Election Commission of India without the collusive role of whose higher-ups (with the ruling BJP to rig the elections) couldn’t happen. This highly criminal act was caught in video cam of Atanu Bhuyan who tweeted it.

No TV news channel could claim to do the breaking news. But The Quint carried the news with the tweet. Barely a few hours after the second phase of polling ended in Assam, the video alleging that EVMs were being transported in the car of BJP MLA from Patharkandi, Krishnendu Paul.

Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora has even threatened that the party would boycott the election “if this open loot and rigging of EVMs doesn’t stop immediately”. He tweeted, ’We expect the Election Commission to take immediate action and explain how this could happen.’ The Congress party will consider boycotting the election if this open loot and rigging of EVMs does not stop immediately.

Gaurav Gogoi tweeted, ‘This is the only way the BJP can win Assam: by looting EVMs.
EVM capturing, like there used to be booth capturing. All under the nose of the Election Commission. Sad day for democracy. Tweeted Jitendra Singh Alwar: How could such a lapse happen? Can EVMs be stolen by a BJP candidate without the connivance of district officials? Is the people’s vote still sacrosanct?’

If this could happen, what is the guarantee that it has not already happened – even if selectively – in West Bengal and other states where assembly elections are taking place? For instance, the unusually complacent body language of the BJP candidate in Nandigram, Suvendu Adhikari, pitted against the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banjerjee as a candidate of All India Trinamool Congress. In contrast to a tensed-up Banerjee who alleged that in about 100 polling booths of Nandigram assembly constituency, the AITC polling agents were not allowed to enter, Adhikari was cool, repeating that ‘a healthy election’ was taking place. Although ECI denied that so many polling booths didn’t deny admission to AITC polling agents and that it happened in eight to ten booths, why did even took place in 8/10 booths.

The role of electronic media in the second phase of election (1 April) was not all well. Take the violent incident at Keshpur assembly in the afternoon when the cars of BJP candidate Preetish Ranjan Konar, TB crew of ABP Ananda TV and 24 Ghanta (Zeenews Bangla) channels were attacked by mob. The two channels, especially the Zeenews channel were vociferous against the violent mob, indirectly the AITC local leaders. The very act of damaging the vehicles for spot news is condemnable. But the inner content of the mobocratic anger must not be missed. The attackers were mostly women. Of the 17 initially arrested by the police, 14 were women. In the wee hours of polling day, Uday Doloi (30), an AITC worker, was dragged allegedly by BJP goons and stabbed. Doloi succumbed to indiscriminate stabbing. TV news channels just reported that an AITC worker was killed but not a single TV news channel rushed to the spot (Daudpur). The two afore-stated TV news channels accompanied the BJP candidate Preetish Ranjan Konar at some polling booths in the afternoon. The women folk had been fuming in anger and their anger increased when they saw the three cars coming almost in a row.

Poll analysts – the majority of them- predict a comfortable win for AITC but the hidden factor is the highly probable EVM-VVPAT manipulation.

Interestingly, Minakshi Mukherjee, candidate of Communist Party of India (Marxist)- CPI(M) - in Nandigram – representing Sangyukta Morcha comprising CPI(M), Indian National Congress and Indian Secular Front (led by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui), had polling agents in all the booths

CPI(M) Central Committee member Rabin Dev said, “Our agents have been able to sit in almost all the booths in Nandigram. The Trinamool and the BJP are planning what is being termed as terrorism so that people do not panic and go out to the polls. In fact, they have realized that people will vote for good and bad this time. So the Trinamool and the BJP are doing what they can to prevent people from voting." But the Left Front had very little presence in Nandigram and in 2016, the LF-supported CPI candidate Abdul Kabir Sekh, was defeated by Subhendu Adhikari by a margin of over 80,000 votes.

The CPI(M) candidate, having no complaint against Central security forces said: “Most of our election agents have been able to sit in the booths since morning. There are problems in some places. However, it is important to provide security for the army so that ordinary people can vote” - as if she is set to defeat both Mamata Banerjee and Subhendu Adhikari. There is no doubt that the BJP election machinery helped her albeit indirectly.

Priyanka Gandhi tweets after Assam BJP candidate’s (sitting MLA) car was caught red-handed with EVMs.

“Every time there is an election videos of private vehicles caught transporting EVM’s show up. Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: 1. The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates.” https://twitter.com/priyankagandhi/status/1377821932297412610

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