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Friday, April 16, 2021

Assam polls: EC refuses to intervene into complaint against BPF candidate who switched over to BJP amid elections

The poll body said it had been assured by Rangja Khungur Basumatary that he had joined the saffron party "without pressure from any quarter".

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: April 4, 2021 8:46:22 pm
Rangja Khungur Basumatary joining the BJP. (Photo credit: Dipak Kumar Pathak)

The Election Commission has decided that it will not intervene in the matter of Rangja Khungur Basumatary – the BPF candidate from Assam’s Tamulpur who joined the BJP this week, just days before polling in his constituency and after the deadline for withdrawal of nominations.

The Congress and the Bodoland People’s Front had approached the poll body to cancel the elections to the Tamulpur seat saying the switching over was a case of “induced defection”.

The Election Commission, in its reply to the petitioners, had pointed out that Basumatary has been a member of the BPF till the last withdrawal of nominations. The Commission said it also held a video conference with Basumatary on April 3 in the presence of the returning officer of Tamulpur constituency to hear his views where he categorically said he had joined the BJP “without any pressure from any quarter”.

“When the campaigning process was on, I realised that it was not possible to continue to fight in the elections. Hence, I willingly, without any pressure from any quarter, joined the BJP. I have not received any notice or letter from the BPF in connection with joining the BJP. At present, I am campaigning in favour of the BJP-approved UPPL candidate,” the poll body’s communication, quoting Basumatary, informed.

The Commission added that the complaint filed by the BPF did not “adduce any evidence” to suggest that Basumatary has relinquished his membership from the party.

The Commission said the Senior Deputy Election Commissioner in Guwahati did receive a communication on WhatsApp suggesting the BPF has removed Basumatary from the primary membership of the party from April 1 but argued it seems to be an “afterthought as no such document was made available to the Commission on April 2”.

It further informed that the last date of nomination was on March 19 and the list of contesting candidates has already been finalised by the Returning Officer after withdrawal of candidature on March 22. “Consequent actions for symbol allocation, postal ballots have already taken place in the Assembly constituency. At this stage, an election can be adjourned or a recognized political party is allowed to change its candidate only in event of death of a candidate of the said recognized political party under Section 2 of the Representation of People’s Act.”

Rejecting the demand for cancellation of the elections, the Election Commission stated: “The complaint has been examined in context of prevailing circumstances and all materials and documents available on record have been studied. The Commission is of the considered view that under the extant statutory provisions, the matter does not warrant any intervention at this juncture.”

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