Guwahati, Feb. 4: The AGP today moved the Assam State Election Commission, demanding a slew of measures to ensure free and fair panchayat polls.
Party president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta told reporters here that the ruling Congress government is using the state administrative machinery to rig the polls and would try to manipulate the counting process.
He alleged that the incidents of rigging took place in several polling booths in the first phase of panchayat polls on January 30.
“The AGP has been demanding the holding of panchayat polls in a transparent and fair manner. There is every possibility of rigging by the ruling Congress in the second and third phases of polls, scheduled for February 6 and 12 respectively. In the last panchayat polls, the Congress resorted to manipulation by managing the administration and declared the results a day later than on the scheduled date,” Mahanta said.
He said the Congress would resort to similar manipulation on the day of the counting of the ensuing polls, to be held on February 14 and 15.
“The party has demanded that the State Election Commission should make public announcements at the end of every round of counting. Representatives of political parties must also be informed about the status at the end of each round. CCTVs and big screens should be put up to ensure that political parties can detect any irregularity that might take place inside the strongrooms,” Mahanta said.
Mahanta, the two-time chief minister of the state, alleged that some of the officials and bureaucrats of the Tarun Gogoi government were campaigning for the Congress, which is punishable under the law. He expressed grave concern that no action has been taken so far against such politically-motivated officials.
The AGP has also informed the state election commission that the education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, during his election speech at Moran on January 24, announced appointment of 50,000 teachers, which is a clear violation of the model code of conduct.
Campaigning for the second phase of the rural polls to be held on February 6 ended this afternoon. As many as nine districts will be involved in the polling, the first phase of which saw a turnout of over 74 per cent.
Biren Dutta, state election commissioner, who received the AGP memorandum, said that he has reviewed the law and order situation in the wake of yesterday’s murder at Tezpur in Sonitpur district, the administration of which said that it was not a “political” murder.
Sonitpur SP Apurba Jiban Baruah said one person of the three involved in last night’s murder of Sahabuddin Choudhury has been arrested. He attributed the killing to a land dispute.
In a media briefing held today, Sonitpur deputy commissioner Tapan Chandra Sarma and the district police chief said all possible steps have been taken to ensure free and fair polls. “The NDFB (Sangbijit) faction might cause disturbances in northern Sonitpur district,” Baruah said.
Five additional companies of security forces have been deployed for the poll in the district. The army has also been deployed.