Teams of the election expenditure observer and income tax department conducted overnight raids on Assam minister Rockybul Hussain’s home and vehicle, leading to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi alleging that the action was “politically motivated” and aimed at “defaming” the leader and the Congress. “The raids have exposed the Government of India’s attitude towards the Opposition and proves it is politically motivated,” Gogoi said. He said procedures were not followed and the raid teams found nothing. Rockybul, the Agriculture Minister, said the raid officials had told him they had come in connection with complaints against his wife. “My wife is not a political person, why should any raid be conducted against her? It is a political conspiracy at the behest of a former colleague who recently joined the BJP,” said Rockybul, who has filed a police complaint. The election expenditure observer for Kamrup, Raghabendra Singh, refused to comment on the raids.
Rs 13 crore seized so far, besides liquor and drugs
Election Commission-appointed flying squads and surveillance teams have seized over Rs 13 crore illegal cash in the five poll-bound states, with the maximum of Rs 7.87 crore recovered in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is followed by Kerala where Rs 4.17 crore in cash has been recovered by the authorities so far. In Murshidabad district of West Bengal, a patrol squad of the CRPF seized two dozen crude bombs and 37 bottles of illict liquor while a squad of ITBP seized 10 kg narcotics in the same district. The model code of conduct has been in force since March 4.
ULFA threat to BJP candidate for ‘secret killings’ of 1990s
The anti-talks faction of ULFA has issued a threat to Bhaskar Sarma, BJP candidate for Margherita, a constituency where the ULFA had gunned down the Congress candidate in 1996. His security has been beefed up as a result. ULFA anti-talks faction publicity secretary Arunoday Asom issued a statement accusing Sarma of having been involved in a series of “secret killings” in the late 1990s, including those of members of the family of western Assam “commander” Drishti Rajkhowa and that of the entire family of Dr Dharanidhar Das. Describing Sarma as “an enemy of the people” and asking people to keep away from him, the statement added, “The ULFA will not tolerate any attempt by the occupational forces to take advantage of the common people in its larger design.”
The police are reviewing the threat perception of the BJP candidate, while surveillance of his movements has been spruced up, “We have seen the ULFA threat and have already taken steps to enhance his security, especially during his movement in the constituency,” said M J Mahanta, SP of Tinsukia of which Margherita is a part. Until now, Sarma has had the same security as other candidates, the SP said.
Voter-verified paper trail
The Election Commission will for the first time use VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) in an election in Assam. It will be used in 10 constituencies — Guwahati East, Guwahati West, Dispur and Jalukbari in the capital city, besides Cachar, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Tezpur and Jorhat. Under VVPAT, an apparatus is linked to the EVM. When a voter cast his or her vote, a receipt is generated displaying the serial number, name and symbol of the voter; it confirms the vote and the voter can verify the details. VVPAT is part of the continuous upgrade process of the Election Commission intended to provide a free and fair elections, the EC said in as statement.
BJP goes to Election Commission over attacks on party workers, calls for security
A BJP delegation approached the Election Commission Wednesday to complain about poll violence in Kerala and request for paramilitary forces and security for party workers in violence-prone areas. Led by Union minister J P Nadda, in charge of the Kerala BJP, the delegation urged the EC to call for a report from state authorities on recent incidents and take action.
“The atmosphere in the state of Kerala has got absolutely tense, turbulent and violent with the elections to the state assembly is approaching nearer and nearer,” the BJP said in a memorandum. “Provide proper security to the political workers of the BJP, who being intentionally targeted by the CPM bastion have become vulnerable to repeated ghastly attacks, and deploy sufficient paramilitary forces in order to ensure free and fair elections.” Nadda said the EC has agreed to their demands. The BJP memorandum cited the murder of a party worker in February and the attack on a BJP worker on March 8 in Kannur, allegedly by the CPM activists. On March 14, former Kerala state chief V Muraleedharan and other party workers were attacked in Thirivananthapuram.