The Returning Officer (RO) of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency, Haobam Rosita, on Monday, April 15, has recommended re-polling in 19 polling stations after the first phase of Lok Sabha polls on April 11.
Re-poll were recommended in four districts namely Ukhrul, Chandel, Senapati and Churachandpur.
According to the Imphal Free Press (IFP), the scrutiny of the polling stations for probable re-poll began on April 15 at the conference hall of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Thoubal district, who is also the RO of the outer constituency.
“The recommendation has been forwarded to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and waiting for approval,” said Ramananda Nongmeikapam, joint Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur, speaking to IFP.
“This is just a recommendation made by the RO. It is upto the ECI to decide how many polling stations to be approved,” he said, adding that the expecting approval would be received by Tuesday.
In Ukhrul, re-poll were recommended in four polling stations while in Churachandpur district, it was recommended in three polling stations in 57-Henglep. The highest re-polls have been ordered in Senapati, where as many as 11 polling stations, including three in 47-Karong, have been recommended.
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The recommendation report said that re-polls were recommended in seven polling stations based on factual reports. The reports stated that in while in two stations Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were damaged by unidentified miscreants, voting was conducted at non-designated location at Najang village for 57-Henglep and in one constituency, the votes cast were more than the number of electors (more than 100% turnout).
In 47-1-Koide (1), the presiding officer reportedly said Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was duly replaced during mock poll. Poll was conducted in a peaceful manner. However, the presiding officer has written that the VVPAT may not have been working properly.
The report of the RO further said the remaining polling stations were recommended for re-poll based on complaints raised by the candidates or their agents and available video footage of polling stations.
It said that multiple votes were cast by one person at 41/30 Mahoutera and 44/21-Shangshak (B) while few people were seen as casting most votes in 45/43-Kachai.
VVPATs were placed outside voting compartments in 48/11 Chawainu, thereby, violating secrecy of voting and multiple votes were cast by one person.
It is also reported that cameras were initially covered by plastic sheet and once the sheets were removed, it was seen that multiple votes were cast by single persons and secrecy of voting was violated in four stations, as people were seen standing inside voting compartments.
Reportedly, in 48/40-Tungam Khullen (D), multiple votes were cast by one persons and VVPAT was placed outside at 48/65-Laii (A) and voters were not seen casting their vote in 49/10-Tadubi (A-1).
General observer of the 17th Lok Sabha election David Pradhan, police observer Norbu Wangdi Bhutia, expenditure observers Pravin Kumar Padwal and Vinay Kumar Kantheti along with assistant returning officers and Sub Divisional Officers of various districts took part in the scrutiny.
According to IFP, it also witnessed the attendance of Congress candidate K. James, Naga People’s Front (NFP) candidate Lorho S Pfoze, BJP candidate Benjamin Mate and representatives of various political parties.
During the scrutiny, K. James complained that the recently held elections were not conducted in a free and fair manner adding that in most polling stations armed miscreants had intimidated polling agents and other polling personnel to vote for their respective candidates. “Despite repeated complaints to the presiding officers concerned, they took no heed saying that there were no problems and complaints at all while the anti-social elements were continuing to threaten people and forcefully making them vote for their candidates,” he was quoted speaking to the regional media.
After the Assistant Review Officers (ARO) concerned had provided replies to the complaints from the various political parties, the Observer stated that after the complaints with substantial evidences were further verified, the date for the re-polls will be announced.
NPF’s Lorho S Pfoze asserted that the election was conducted in a free and fair manner in spite of some few random illegal acts. “Even if there are complaints from some of the candidates, I believe that the election was conducted in a democratic and fair manner,” he said adding that the NPF was sure to win the election by the people’s mandate.
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