| Members of the Manipur Democratic Alliance stage a demonstration in Imphal on Tuesday in protest against booth capturing. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Imphal, April 29: The Election Commission has taken “serious note” of the high percentage of polling at a booth in Khangabok Assembly constituency of Thoubal district during voting for the Manipur Outer seat on April 16.
Sources said a repoll could be ordered.
Initially, the presiding officer of the 35/32 Athokpam (C) polling station reported 100 per cent polling. The polling booth has 689 voters, including 313 males. This Assembly constituency is represented by Landhoni Devi, wife of chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
After chief electoral officer Shambhu Singh ordered an inquiry, district election officer R.K. Dinesh Singh submitted a report to the chief electoral officer (CEO) stating that the presiding officer committed a mistake in the tabulation and the actual poll percentage should be 99.12 instead of 100.
This resulted in Independent candidate Mani Charenamei submitting a complaint with the Election Commission alleging widespread rigging. After the complaint, the poll panel sought a detailed report from the state’s chief electoral officer, Shambhu Singh. The report submitted by the district election officer was forwarded to the Election Commission, stating that there were no irregularities during polling. Singh met chief election commissioner Navin Chawla today in Delhi and briefed him about the post-poll development in Manipur.
However, the Election Commission was not satisfied with the report and sought a fresh report on how the poll percentage was so high and also the mode of deployment of security for the said polling station. Confirming this, joint electoral officer Ranjit Singh told The Telegraph today that the state election office yesterday submitted a report for the second time to the commission regarding the high poll percentage.
The details of the report are not disclosed, but the state election office is understood to have stuck to the ground that there were no irregularities in the poll process.
“We sent a fresh report as sought by the Election Commission. We are yet to receive a response from the commission. We could not say what decision would be taken by the commission,” Ranjit Singh said.
Sources in the election office said never in the electoral history of the state has such high percentage of voting been recorded. “Moreover, the queue of the voters at the booth seen through the day belies such tall claims,” a source said.
Ibobi Singh was elected from Khangabok as well as Thoubal during the 2007 Assembly election. He vacated the Khangabok seat to pave the way for his wife’s entry in the Assembly. Landhoni Devi was elected in the byelection.
Sources said the commission took a serious view of the poll percentage and speculation is ripe in the political circle that the commission could order repoll in this booth.
The overall poll percentage in Manipur Outer is 83.74.
The development came at a time when the Manipur Peoples Party and the CPI have been demanding repoll in 16 polling booths in Manipur Inner seat, which went to the polls on April 22. They charged that electoral malpractice was committed in the booths.
Delegations of the two parties met the commission’s officials in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday separately.