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Tripura Cong to boycott counting

Agartala, April 23: The Opposition Congress in Tripura has called a boycott of the process of counting of votes on May 16 in the state’s two Lok Sabha seats.

It has also decided to observe the day as “black day” in protest against the “murder of democracy”.

In a letter to the Election Commission, PCC spokesman Ashok Sinha said unless repolling was held in both the Lok Sabha constituencies and Ashutosh Jindal was removed from the post of chief electoral officer, counting would be boycotted and May 16 would be observed as “black day”.

The PCC’s communication to the Election Commission also alleged that the entire election to the West and East Tripura Lok Sabha seats on April 7 and April 12 had been “reduced to a farce” through “organised rigging” by CPM cadres and the Election Commission.

Interacting with reporters on the issue, Sinha said a video clipping shown by a local cable TV channel had clearly established the extent of rigging resorted to by CPM cadres and the administration.

“Chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal himself is responsible for the farce enacted in the name of election. He has only performed a ritual by initiating action against the presiding officer and poll officials in booth no. 56 under Bishalgarh Assembly segment of West Tripura constituency. Similar reports of electoral malpractices have come from all over the state,” said Sinha.

However, sources in the election department here said in more than 50 per cent of the state’s 3,095 polling stations the Congress, Trinamul Congress and the BJP had failed to put up polling agents.

“Polling in West Tripura seat was held on April 7 while polling in East Tripura came off on April 12. It was only on April 14 that a local cable TV channel had shown a clipping where a nominated voter had helped three visually challenged persons cast their votes and the Congress and other Opposition parties started raising allegations of largescale rigging,” a senior official of the election department said.

The official said the matter was being investigated and the presiding officer and polling officials in booth no. 56 under Bishalgarh Assembly segment of West Tripura parliamentary constituency had been issued showcause notices for violation of rules and regulations of election.

“They are going to be put under suspension for irregular activities. There is no basis on which allegations of largescale rigging are being made,” the official said.

Apart from the PCC, the Trinamul Congress is also trying to make an issue out of the video clipping shown by a local cable TV news channel.

“We are going to organise demonstrations all over the state on May 5 to register our protest against the largescale rigging in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls,” said state Trinamul chairman and former Congress minister Ratan Chakraborty.

“The CPM made a calculated attempt not only to win both the Lok Sabha seats but also to ensure second place for the Congress. They are scared of the rise of Trinamul in Tripura,” he said.