The Election Commission (EC), in all likelihood, will announce a repoll in nearly 130 polling booths of West Tripura seat — the highest for any Lok Sabha constituency in the ongoing elections.
Retired IAS officer and former Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi, who was appointed Special Observer for Tripura on April 22, is learnt to have recommended repoll in the 131 booths, in his report to EC recently, on the ground that the “poll process was vitiated”.
Repoll will be announced once “availability of adequate security forces” on “suitable dates” is worked out by the Commission, The Indian Express has learnt.
West Tripura voted in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections — April 11. The seat has 1,679 polling booths. EC’s probe found the voting process to be vitiated in roughly 8 per cent of total booths.
Zutshi was appointed special observer to the state after both Opposition parties in Tripura — Congress and CPM — alleged “mass rigging” in the first phase. The CPM had demanded repoll in 464 booths in the constituency, which they later revised to 846 booths.
‘Rigging’ first confirmed in DM’s report
Reports of rigging were first confirmed in the report submitted by West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Mahatme, who detailed violations across seven Assembly segments, ranging from “intimidating” voters to cast votes in favour of a particular candidate to polling agents casting votes of voters “multiple times”. The Assembly segments named in his report were Mohanpur, Kamalsagar, Charilam (ST), Dhanpur, Kakraban-Shalgara, Rajnagar (SC) and Belonia.
The Commission, subsequently, deferred polling for East Tripura seat from April 18 to April 23. Zutshi was tasked with overseeing voting in East Tripura and submit a report on complaints of alleged rigging, which he did recently.
“Our initial estimation was 464 booths. Then we received more reports of booths being rigged or captured. On April 27, we demanded the countermanding of Tripura West election,” said a CPM leader, adding that they made the fresh demand for election after they ascertained that “50 per cent voters were unable to vote on April 11”. On Monday, Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Jairam Ramesh met CEC Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra to demand countermanding of West Tripura poll.