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Poll panel pledges free & fair Tripura election

Agartala, Nov. 29: Deputy election commissioner Binod Jutsi today said the Election Commission would take “all necessary steps” to ensure free and fair polling in Tripura’s Assembly polls scheduled in February.

“Not only will the international border with Bangladesh be sealed but Tripura’s borders with Mizoram and Assam will also be sealed well ahead of polling to stop the ingress of undesirable elements.”

Introducing a new method to ensure fairness in the Tripura polls, Jutsi said political party workers would be required to distribute only “photo-affixed voter slips” that will be issued by the commission. “This will ensure complete fairness and eliminate chances of manipulation,” Jutsi said before leaving for Delhi this evening.

The deputy election commissioner arrived here yesterday to take stock of the situation. He held a series of meetings with all the eight district magistrates and 23 SDOs and asked them to spare no effort in preparing error-free electoral rolls and ensuring free and fair elections.

“This is your responsibility and in case you are found wanting in anything, the Commission will act according to the law and that will not be in your interest,” Jutsi told the district magistrates and SDOs.

His meetings with officials and representatives of political parties continued till the afternoon and he promised the leaders that the commission would act as a “good and impartial umpire”.

However, there was a great deal of shouting between CPM and Congress leaders during the deputy election commissioner’s meeting with all political parties.

PCC general secretary Asish Saha filed a written complaint with the deputy election commissioner against SDO (Amarpur) Sajal Biswas and three booth-level officers — Tenzing Koloi, Asim Deb and Abhiram Reang. Saha alleged that they were indiscriminately dropping names of pro-Congress and pro-INPT voters and including names of minor, dead and Bangladeshi voters allegedly at the behest of the CPM. The Congress alleged that in Boxanagar constituencies of Sipahijala district, 124 out of 848 voters from the minority community possess double photo identity cards.

“We have filed written complaints against the inclusion of fake voters for helping the CPM. The deputy election commissioner has promised to have the matters investigated,” said Saha, expressing satisfaction over the steps being taken by the poll panel.

CPM leaders Gautam Das and Haripada Das alleged that PCC president Sudip Roy Barman, leader of the Opposition Ratanlal Nath and Congress MLA Subal Bhowmik were threatening and intimidating voters at public meetings into supporting the Congress.

They also alleged that Congress leaders were trying to confuse the Election Commission by making false allegations as the poll panel’s two observers — Ajay Jadav and Sudhir Kumar — had found no truth in the complaints made by Congress leaders and workers.

Jutsi told CPM leaders that the commission could not act against leaders and workers for foul utterances because the code of conduct would be enforced only after a notification. “Now, we cannot do anything as per law and you can only approach the court to redress your grievances.”