Assam Polls 2021: Opposition plea for “fair and smooth” counting of votes on May 2
The Congress-led 10-party alliance in Assam moved the Election Commission on Tuesday requesting steps for “fair and smooth” counting of votes on May 2.
Polling in Assam was held on March 27, April 1 and 6 with both the Congress-led alliance and the ruling BJP-led alliance exuding confidence of winning the keenly-contested elections.
Led by Assam PCC president Ripun Bora, senior leaders of the alliance went to the office of the chief electoral officer to submit a two-page memorandum to the chief election commissioner requesting a slew of directives to “maintain transparency, impartiality for fair and smooth counting of votes”.
The Congress had on April 7 moved the CEO seeking access/link of CCTV surveillance of the strong rooms to all the contesting candidates because they fear that the ruling BJP “may go to any extent to manipulate the mandate” of the Assembly polls.
Tuesday’s joint memorandum by the alliance seems to be an extension of the demand made by the Congress, which has also flown out AIUDF and BPF candidates to Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh respectively fearing poaching by the BJP.
Congress insiders said certain developments during the three-phase polls, from transportation of electronic voting machines to their recovery from unauthorised places, have raised a lot of questions about the way things have been handled so far.
“The reported incidents do not inspire confidence. That is why our alliance leaders have suggested a slew of dos and don’ts to remove any kind of trust deficit... for fair and smooth counting,” said senior PCC member Diganta Choudhary.
The dos and don’ts, among others, included a direction to all deputy commissioners, subdivisional officers (civil) and returning officers to furnish the details of officials engaged for counting to all the contesting candidates.
The alliance leaders also sought a directive to the officers to ensure video-recording of all counting tables and shifting of EVMs from the strong room to the counting hall, allow the presence of authorised agents of candidates at the entrance of the strong room after it is opened till the counting process is over and details about postal ballots issued in each constituency.
There are 126 Assembly constituencies in the state.
The leaders wanted that postal ballots be taken up for counting before the EVMs are opened besides directing the returning officers that “unless one round is finished and recorded in writing, next round of EVMs cannot be opened for counting”.
The Congress-led mahajot (Grand Alliance) includes the AIUDF, CPM, CPI, CPIML, Anchalik Gana Morcha, Bodoland People’s Party (BPF), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Jimochayan (Deori) People’s Party (JPP) and the Adivasi National Party (ANP).
The memorandum was signed by representatives of all the parties besides the Congress’s Bora, Pradyot Bordoloi and Debabrata Saikia.