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As counting to the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypoll progressed on Wednesday, the entire Opposition demanded an immediate discussion in both houses of the state legislature on reports of the district administration asking Samajwadi Party workers and mediapersons to vacate the counting centre there.
According to the Opposition, District Magistrate Rajive Rautela had stepped in sometime during the day and gave the order. They claimed this was unfair and the Samajwadi Party said it had written to the Election Commission of India (ECI) that the district administration was under pressure from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In the Assembly, when the Speaker said that the issue could not be raised in this manner, the Opposition marched into the Well and raised slogans: “Loktantra ki hatyari sarkar nahi chalegi”, “Vote Ki dhandali band karo”. The entire Question Hour was washed out in this manner forcing an hour-long adjournment in the Assembly.
Whe the House reassembled, the Opposition kept up the pressure and ensured there was no discussion on the state Budget. The House was adjourned till March 19.
Later, Opposition attacked DM Rautela. They pointed out that when the DM was accused of being involved in an illegal mining case, the government took no action despite the court seeking a report on the same.
“We had sought his removal in the past as well but no one listened. Today, journalists as well as party workers were forced out of the counting centre by district administration. An attempt was made to kill democracy. We will not sit quietly. We have approached ECI with a complaint,” said Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary.
Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar “Lallu” said, “Despite court order regarding DM in an illegal mining case, the way Chief Minister allowed him to continue as DM. This shows the actual intention of the Chief Minister.”
Later in the day, Samajwadi Party state president Naresh Uttam wrote to the ECI alleging that the police cane-charged people outside the counting centre as soon as counting started.
The letter stated that district administration was working under pressure from the chief minister. Media persons were forced to leave the counting centre so that no information can be given on update, the letter stated.
However, Additional District Magistrate (ADM), East, Gorakhpur, Prabhu Nath, the district deputy election officer, denied the allegation of a cane-charge or that they stopped members of the media. “There were some people trying to force their way inside from one entry point reserved for the returning officer. We asked them to instead go to another area where they can get the information and take photographs,” said ADM Nath.