Vol. XLII No. 07 February 18, 2018

Concern over BJP’s Campaign for Tripura Polls

THE CPI(M) drew the attention of the Chief Election Commissioner to certain major corrupt practices which the BJP is indulging in, in the run-up to the Tripura assembly elections.  The CPI(M) Tripura state committee has already brought this to the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer, Tripura and copies have been duly forwarded to the Commission. Nilotpal Basu, CPI(M) central secretariat member met the Chief Election Commissioner, Om Prakash Rawat on February 8 at the Election Commission office on the question of holding peaceful, free and fair elections to the Tripura assembly.  The CEC assured to look into concerns raised by the Party with all seriousness 

The issue pertains to the announcement made in the social media campaign page of the BJP where an advertisement has been published for non-resident voters from outside the state with a promise for free train travel to Tripura by showing their voter ID cards, posing this as a ‘gift’ from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.   This is a clear violation of Section 123 (5) and punishable under Section 133 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.  The copy of the said advertisement has also been attached as part of the representation to the CEC. 

There are questions in the public mind about the integrity of the EVM machines.  It is through the relentless efforts of parties like us and recognition of the problem by the ECI, the VVPAT has been introduced to address some of these concerns.  In course of the mock polling with EVM in part 47 of 41-Ampinagar assembly constituency, the machine was recording votes for the lotus symbol, regardless of the buttons pressed.  The officials in-charge of the demonstration accepted the malfunctioning of the machine.  While there is no difficulty in accepting malfunction of the machines, what is surprising is why do all malfunctions end up in recording votes for the ‘lotus’. It must be ensured that there should not be any single malfunction at the time of actual polls, but to inspire confidence among the voters, at least for 20 per cent of the booths, both their EVM records and the VVPAT records must be tallied during counting and this must be duly notified, so that the growing concern about the integrity of the machines can be dispelled (Annexure-2). 

We are given to understand that a large number of outsiders have entered and are camping in Tripura; some of them are even using official state government accommodation.  As per the information available with us, the substantial number of outsiders are sheltered at present at : (1) Anandamayee Ashram, Palace Compound, Agartala (2) Madan Mohan Ashram, Melarmath, Agartala (3) Sonar Tori Hotel, Agartala (4) Geetanjali Tourism Department Guest House, Agartala (5) near TRTC Depot, Khowai Town of Khowai district etc.  Tripura is a border state and the holding of peaceful elections is extremely important from the standpoint of national security.  Therefore, unless the election administration takes a pro-active approach to deal with any attempt to subvert peace, it will be difficult to ensure and sustain the tradition of peaceful free and fair elections in the state. Therefore, whatever measure including the role of intelligence agencies and the security forces are needed should be initiated to stop non-voters from playing any role which is disruptive of a peaceful atmosphere (Annexure-2 and Annexure-4). 

It is shocking that the BJP’s campaign booklet on Seventh Pay Commission uses the photograph of the governor.  We need not repeat the role of the governor as a constitutional functionary; therefore, this thoroughly unacceptable conduct of the BJP needs to be immediately stopped by public denouncement and seizure of this publicity material (Annexure-2). 

We are also shocked that a so-called video film by an allegedly independent director is being used by the BJP.  Captioned “Lal Sarkar”, the film without certification cannot be shown; but the trailer which also needs a certification is being screened as part of the BJP’s campaign material (Annexure-3 and Annexure-6). This is the link address to this video content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbm5DMqNGas. The contents clearly establish that they are violative of para 1(1) and para 1(2) of the model code of conduct.  Therefore, we urge you to initiate steps to stop the screening of this material.

We are alarmed by the fact that the vetting of speeches and video clippings for official broadcast/telecast over All India Radio and Doordarshan has been outsourced to two journalists attached to traditionally anti-Left media.  To ensure the impartiality of the election process, the task of vetting should be undertaken by AIR and DD in house (Annexure-7). 


(Annexures have not been published – ed)