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NPP writes to poll panel

- Partymen demand more security for Garo hills strongman in face of ‘threat’
V.S. Sampath

Shillong, March 27: The National People’s Party (NPP) has lodged a complaint before the Election Commission against Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma for his “death wish” remark on its national president and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma.

The NPP also requested the commission to utilise the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system for the April 9 elections in Tura parliamentary constituency to prevent manipulation.

On March 20, at a press conference here, the chief minister had stated that the NPP leader had returned to the state to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls from Tura because he wanted to grab something “before he dies”.

Mukul had used Garo words “cha.e siangna”. Translated into English, Mukul said, the words mean, “Before I (Purno) die, let me grab something.”

The former Lok Sabha Speaker is locked in a one-on-one contest with Congress nominee Daryl William Cheran Momin from the Tura parliamentary seat.

Taking strong exception against the remarks, NPP secretary I.B. Pandey, in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath, said, “The chief minister has directly threatened our leader (P.A. Sangma) by predicting his death. Not only is this statement unacceptable from a chief minister, but it also reflects his intentions. We would like to formally lodge a complaint against the chief minister for such derogatory remarks, and appeal that appropriate action be taken against him.”

At the same time, Pandey requested Sampath to increase the security cover of Purno Sangma based on the “threat” being issued by the chief minister.

The NPP also requested the commission to implement VVPAT for the Tura parliamentary polls. “We appeal that at least 1,500 machines could be used for Tura, keeping in mind the prevailing law and order situation in the Garo Hills. We have submitted letters and documents to show how grave the situation is, and if proper measures are not taken, there is a chance of manipulation during the voting process,” Pandey added.

He asserted that the use of VVPAT system would eliminate the chances of any possible manipulation by any group or by those in power.

Further, Pandey said Mukul’s statement reinforces the NPP’s demand for the use of VVPAT. “If the chief minister can issue a threat, he is also capable of going to any extent to win this election, which includes manipulating the electronic voting machines.”

The VVPAT is an independent verification system for voting machines. It is designed to allow voters to verify if their votes have been cast correctly. The technology also provides room to detect possible election fraud or malfunction and audit the stored electronic results.


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