| RJD candidate Misa Bharti flaunts her voter identity card in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Misa Bharti allegedly vandalised a polling booth in the Pataliputra constituency today, courting controversy the day her fate was sealed in EVMs.
The RJD’s Pataliputra nominee was charged with entering a polling booth (No. 34) of Dihri Middle School at Bihta in the Vikram Assembly segment of the Pataliputra constituency with her supporters and breaking an EVM. A TV channel beamed a video clip showing her locked in a verbal duel with the polling officials. She even ran after the cameraman shooting the entire episode and blocked the lens with her hands.
Shivpujan Rai, the presiding officer of the booth, has submitted a report to the chief electoral officer of Bihar, Ajay Naik, against Misa alleging that she and her supporters had vandalised the booth — an act resembling her estranged mamas (maternal uncles) Sadhu Yadav and Subhash Yadav who frequently courted controversy on election days during the Lalu-Rabri era.
Naik, the chief electoral officer, said two FIRs would be lodged in the episode. “The first would be for Misa entering the polling booth with armed security guards, which a candidate or anyone for that matter is not supposed to do. The second FIR would be against a group of criminals who entered the booth after Misa left and vandalised the EVM. The presiding officer has given his report and the sections under which the FIR would be lodged would be decided in accordance with it,” Naik said.
Additional director-general (police headquarters) Ravindra Kumar said FIRs against Misa would be lodged under the People’s Representative Act and IPC. He, however, did not give specific sections and stressed that he would reveal them after getting the copies of the FIRs.
Misa’s father, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, wasted no time in defending his daughter. Giving her a clean chit, Lalu said: “Misa did not break the EVM. The booth was captured by the BJP and she had gone there to protest. The EVM was damaged by the polling officials, who were in connivance with the BJP in capturing the booth.”
Lalu declared that Misa would also lodge an FIR against the polling officials.
Misa, herself, alleged that the polling officials misbehaved with her. “They caught hold of my hand and tried to snatch my cellphone,” she said, stressing that she would lodge an FIR against the presiding officer.
The spokesperson of the RJD, Manoj Jha, expressed his concern over the episode and the misbehaviour meted out to Misa. “It is a dangerous sign for women entering politics and the Election Commission of India should look into the matter,” he said.
According to sources in the RJD, Misa and her supporters were crossing the booth around 1.10pm when four women surrounded her car and complained that they were not allowed to vote. “Misa entered the booth and asked the polling officials to stop electoral malpractices. While leaving the booth, she brushed aside a person recording her interaction with the polling officers. It is wrong to say that she blocked the lens of a cameraman,” said an RJD supporter, adding that the party would formally lodge a complaint with the Election Commission of India against the polling officials.
Misa is locked in a stiff contest in the Pataliputra Lok Sabha seat against former RJD leader-turned-BJP candidate Ram Kripal Yadav, who termed the entire episode “unfortunate”.