Vol. XLI No. 17 April 23, 2017

BJP Leader’s EVM Assertion: Slip of Tongue about a Hidden Agenda?

Haripada Das

ASTONISHING the democracy-loving people of Tripura, BJP state president Biplab Deb boastfully declared: “As election was held in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, it will recur in Tripura. Even if (Chief Minister) Manik Sarkar himself casts his vote for his party, that will be recorded in favour of lotus (BJP’s poll symbol). Manik Sarkar may go to lodge a case against Biplab Deb, if he has guts.” He added, “if the BJP is voted to power I myself shall get a sanction of Rs 1,500 crore as special package from the Centre, and then Tripura will no more be a REGA state, and within three years, Tripura will be the best state in the country.”

He made these remarks at an open rally of the BJP in Teliamura sub-division of Khowai district on April 12. Deb’s remarks make several indications which are sufficient to turn the democratic system of the county into a complete mockery, undermine the impartial role of the Election Commission and destroy the federal character of the government. His speech indicates that the BJP can manufacture the result of an election to its choice quite unconcerned whom the majority of the electorate voted for. He confesses that the recently held Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur were manipulated in favour of the ruling BJP. So boastful the BJP leader is that while voicing such anti-democratic fascistic words, he is not at all scared of being sued in the court of law. He assures the people of getting special financial grant from the Centre if the BJP is voted to power in the state, as if the government exchequer is the private property of the BJP. But the fact is that, the Left Front government has been insisting for the special grant of Rs. 10,000 crore to compensate the deprivation of the 13th Finance Commission of its due which was rejected by both UPA and BJP governments. If the pre-condition for availing such special grant is the state concerned shall have to be ruled by the same party which is ruling at the Centre, then federal character of the governance will no more exist in India.

Deb also ridiculed the state saying it is a ‘REGA state” because Tripura was awarded first position consecutively for four years and second position in last year, that too, for non-cooperation of the Centre in fund allocation. With this comment, Deb has exposed the real outlook of the BJP towards the working people. It is pertinent to mention here that, due to the mounting pressure of the left parties, the left dependent first UPA government led by the Congress was compelled to introduce MNREGA in the country.   

The Tripura Left Front has strongly criticised the BJP leader’s comments. At a press conference, Left Front leaders asked whether he uttered such comments on the direction of the central BJP leadership or it was a slip of the tongue about a hidden agenda. It released to the press a copy of the complaint made to the Chief Election Commissioner which reads, “At a time, when a national level debate is going on, on the skepticism that has been raised about accurate performance of the EVMs used in the election after the BJP’s swiping victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand followed by manipulation of EVMs in favour of the ruling BJP while testing for Bandhavgarh By-election in Madhya Pradesh, this utterance of Biplab Deb clearly confessing manipulation in UP and Manipur Assembly elections, will only deepen people’s mistrust in the electoral system of the country and at the same time, seriously hurt the dignity and acceptability of the constitutional body like the Election Commission of India itself. This is a serious threat to the democracy also”.  The Left Front urged the Chief Election Commissioner to “take urgent appropriate steps against Biplab Deb so that the people’s confidence in the electoral system as well as in the Election Commission is kept intact.”

A similar complaint has been made by CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar to the CEC and a copy of which was sent to the Chief Electoral Officer of the state seeking urgent action against the BJP leader. A video CD containing the relevant part of Deb’s speech and clippings of two news reports were attached with the complaint.

When the above issue sparked serious apprehension about the fate of democracy, particularly when the state assembly election is slated for early next year, no state or national BJP leader has made any clarification about the statement nor condemned it. Any attempt of high-jacking the people’s mandate by means of electoral manipulation in the next assembly election in Tripura will be resisted by the democratic and peace-loving people of the state. Hundreds of people took to the streets condemning the statement of Deb and demanding urgent legal action against him. The people of Tripura hope that the entire secular, democratic forces of the country will stand beside Tripura in its struggle for defending democracy, peace and communal harmony.