The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll battle heats up over age & address

Guwahati, May 16: A section of the Opposition is planning to move court against alleged misrepresentation of facts by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Asom Gana Parishad candidate Kumar Dipak Das in their Rajya Sabha nomination papers.

Former Union minister Matang Sinh, an Independent candidate for one of the two seats to which elections will be held on May 24, complained to the Election Commission yesterday that the age mentioned in Das’s affidavit, 49, was the same when he contested the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat in 2004.

To pre-empt any attempt to disrupt or obtain a stay on the poll, the AGP filed caveats in Gauhati High Court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court today.

Once a caveat is filed, a court has to hear the respondent before passing any order.

Senior AGP leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury neither confirmed nor denied the development, but said the party was prepared for any challenge that it might face in electing Das to the Rajya Sabha. Citing a Supreme Court ruling in a similar case, he said the poll process could not be challenged midway.

Das, too, said he could not be faulted for mentioning his age as it appears on the voters’ list.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister’s Guwahati address — as mentioned in his affidavit — generated a controversy. The Opposition said the number of Singh’s rented apartment was wrong and that there was no such house in the city.

“If the Election Commission fails to take cognisance of our complaints, we may approach the court for a stay on the elections, if necessary,” a senior functionary of Badruddin Ajmal’s Assam United Democratic Front said.

However, Assembly secretary and returning officer G.P. Das said the poll process was very much on course. “All three nominations filed so far are valid. There is neither any problem with the age nor addresses mentioned by them. We have kept the Election Commission posted about all developments.”

Only a day remains for withdrawal of nominations, if any.

A senior advocate of Gauhati High Court said the poll process could not be stayed and that anyone wishing to challenge any aspect of the elections could do so only after the declaration of results.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi described the Sinh-Ajmal tie-up as a “surprising one” and wondered if they had a tacit understanding with the BJP.

He said there could be horse-trading among the Opposition for the second seat, vacated by BJP leader Indramoni Bora.

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