Rattled AGP seeks re-poll using ballots
Guwahati: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Sunday made the bizarre demand for a re-poll using traditional ballots, saying that the Congress had rigged the electronic voting machines (EVMs) to win the Assam elections for the third straight time.
"Definitely there should be a re-election by way of ballots as we strongly believe the Congress party tampered and manipulated the electronic voting machines," two-time former chief minister and AGP founder president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta told journalists.
"We have formally apprised the Election Commission seeking a re-election in Assam," he said.
The Congress party, led by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, pulled off an emphatic hat-trick by winning 78 of the 126 assembly seats on Friday. Its ally, the Bodoland People`s Party, (BPF) won 12 seats.
The AGP, which ruled Assam twice in 1985 and 1989, was decimated and managed to win just 10 seats this time, 14 less then what it had bagged in the 2006 assembly polls.
The other main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won five seats, five less then what it got last time.
Among the prominent losers were AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and BJP state president Ranjit Dutta - both losing to the Congress. Even Mahanta lost in one of the two seats he contested from.
"How could the Congress candidates win with such huge margins," questioned Mahanta.
But Mahanta failed to give a convincing answer when asked how he won from one seat and nine other AGP candidates also emerged victorious.
"No, they (Congress) manipulated the EVMs in the other seats," the former chief minister said.
But the BJP rejected any such theories and conceded defeat.
"We respect the mandate of the people and maybe we failed to reach out to the voters," BJP state president Ranjit Dutta told journalists.
The Congress simply ridiculed Mahanta`s comments.
"By blaming EVMs and accusing us of manipulating, Mahanta is turning to be a big clown, nothing less than a comic character," a senior Congress leader said.
"Such statements are nothing but frustration and reflect how immature Mahanta and the other AGP leaders are," he added.
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