Prevent rigging, booth capturing in UP, West Bengal: BJP to EC

BJP sought the Election Commission`s intervention to prevent alleged rigging and booth capturing particularly in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in the last two phases of Lok Sabha polls.

New Delhi: BJP on Monday sought the Election Commission`s intervention to prevent alleged rigging and booth capturing particularly in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in the last two phases of Lok Sabha polls.

A day after Narendra Modi criticised the poll panel for failing to curb alleged rigging during polls in some states, a BJP delegation headed by Arun Jaitley met the EC to complain that the incidents of "silent booth capturing" have started particularly in UP and West Bengal.

"Central forces are being used for non-election purposes and local police and home guards are managing polling booths. The agents of opposition parties are threatened and turned
away from booths.

"It is especially seen in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. So in next two phases, Election Commission should ensure that it should not happen," Jaitley told reporters after
meeting the poll panel.

He said that in the past 10-15 years, Election Commission`s one big achievement was that it was able to stop booth capturing and rigging in states during polls.

"But in 2014 polls, booth capturing especially silent booth capturing has started again, particularly in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh," he said.

As many as 23 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal go to polls -- six on May 7 and 17 on May 12.

Elections will be held in 33 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh in the remaining two phases.
Addressing a rally in Asansol in West Bengal yesterday, Modi had complained about booth rigging in West Bengal, Bihar and western Uttar Pradesh.

Modi had alleged that the EC was not acting impartially and even dared it to take action against him.

"Why are you not acting? What is your intention? If you feel wrong about what I am saying now, then you are free to lodge another case against me," Modi had said.

"It is your responsibility to ensure impartial polls. I am making very serious allegations," he had said.

In a memorandum to the Election Commission, BJP said the party approached it apprehending that the lawlessness which was perceived in the polls that took place on April 24 in UP and April 30 in West Bengal may "recur with greater vigour" in the ensuing penultimate and ultimate phases.

It said that mere provisioning of para military forces may not suffice and the effective deployment of these forces on poll related duties, especially in sensitive booths should be ensured.

"The Commission may like to appoint one observer exclusively for monitoring the proper deployment of para military forces," the party said.

The BJP said since the remaining phases were only two and the forces deployed in the earlier phases may still be available, the Commission should consider providing para military forces in all the booths and if this was not possible to saturate maximum number of booths in trouble some areas with para military forces.

It also insisted on undisrupted continuous video recording and provisioning of CCTV cameras in all booths.

"Past experience shows that video recording was stopped even in the forenoon," the party said.
The BJP alleged that the party in power ensures the absence of polling agents belonging to opposition parties.

"It is understood that there are certain instructions whereby the agents are prohibited from leaving the booths after 3 PM. In certain places this rule has been misused to the advantage of the ruling party by not allowing such agents to return to booths once they leave it at any time of the day.

"It is suggested that the Commission may introduce a logging procedure by which the movements of agents will be recorded throughout the day," the memorandum said.

The observers should also be asked to be vigilant or such malpractices, it added.

The party also asked the poll panel to deploy as many micro observers as possible, drawing upon non-governmental functionaries such as from banks, LIC etc, who have apolitical
demeanour and not subservient or loyal to the party in power for the remaining phases.

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