EC approves repolling in 12 booths of Inner Manipur LS seat

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IMPHAL, April 23 (PTI): The Election Commission has approved re-polling in 12 booths of Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency, where the voting process was disrupted or stalled during the second phase on April 18.

Noting that the polling undertaken in these 12 booths has been declared “void” by the EC, Chief Electoral Officer PK Singh said Monday fresh elections will be held on April 24 amid enhanced security arrangements.

He asked the polling agents to take necessary measures to ensure free and fair polls.

“There will be arrangements for webcasting and CCTV coverage both outside and inside the polling stations. The police department will provide adequate security arrangements for fresh polls,” Singh said in a statement.

Repolling was necessitated in the 12 booths, five of which come under Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s home constituency Heingang, after multiple complaints of EVM rigging and booth capture were registered with the state election office.

Violence had broken out in two polling stations of Kiyamgei Muslim locality in Imphal East district, stalling the voting process.

In one of the stations, a group of miscreants broke EVMs and VVPATs, while in the other, a scuffle broke out between the election agents.

The opposition Congress had demanded re-polling in multiple booths of the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat, including the ones in Heingang assembly segment, alleging malpractices and rampant proxy voting.

Manipur has two parliamentary seats, one of which went to polls on April 11 and the other on April 18.

Meanwhile, candidates in the fray in Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency on Monday claimed “moral victory” while welcoming the re-poll order in 12 polling booths by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Addressing a joint press conference with another candidate at Manipur Press Club, CPI candidate Dr M Nara Singh said the ECI re-poll order has proved that the recent election to Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency was not conducted in free and fair manner.

Independent candidate RK Somerendro alias Kaiku also attended the press conference.

Pointing out that almost all the polling stations where re-polls are to be held are in the home constituencies of the ministers, an MLA of ruling party, Dr Nara blamed the ruling BJP for “desecrating” democracy.  The CPI leader also said that the government should be held responsible and the parties running the government must be shameful for such “malpractices” in elections. “The ruling party used their muscle and money powers in indulging in all kinds of malpractices fearing the defeat of its candidate in the fray”, Dr Nara alleged. He then said he has been a victim of such injustice meted out by the party in power till today.

“Free and fair election should be the main objective of the people as well as candidates contesting the elections, and that, voters should be allowed to exercise their franchise without any fear. Only then, the taste of true democracy can be tasted by the people”, Dr Nara said.

Also speaking on the occasion, Independent candidate, RK Somorendro alias Kaiku alleged that the “ruling party” often use their muscle and money powers to win elections every time. “Such culture of political parties in power has demoralised the candidates who come out with the true spirit of serving the people and the nation,” he added.

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