C.E.O. IN THE SOUP

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa’s Chief Election Officer is in the soup as the parallel supremo of ruling BJD, Pyari Mohan Mohaparta has alleged that she is anti-BJD and she has interfered with posting of officials in order to implement her anti-BJD motive. The BJD has moved the Election Commission to enquire into her activities, he has revealed. On the other hand, the BJP and the Congress suspect that she has been helping the BJD as she has failed to act promptly against the most notorious attempt to hijack votes for BJD through manipulation in Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

The most notorious booth that the phase 2 elections in Orissa witnessed was booth No.160 at Cuttack’s Nimasahi. It was seen that vote for any candidate of any party was being recorded by the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for BJD as the machine was indicating only the BJD symbol.

Confronted with this, the embarrassed polling officials had to stop further voting there even as both the Congress and BJP and all the participants except BJD alleged that the EVM was tampered with to divert other votes to BJD.

Malpractice in polling was rampant.

Confirming this, the Election Commission (EC) has ordered for and executed re-polling in nine booths. They are Booth No.41 (Tigiria) under Athgarh Costituency, 21 (Kolathua) under Mahanga constituency, 23 (Sadangoi) under Pipili constituency, 111 (Asia) under Badachana constituency, 159 (Rampilo) under Sukinda constituency, 26 (Mukundpur) under Dharmasala constituency, 121 (Erancha) under Niali constituency, 213 (Patilo) under Ghasipura constituency and 212 ((Badasarisa) under Bhograi Costituency.

But the EC is surprisingly silent in respect to the booth No.160 of Cuttack’s Nimasahi, where the most notorious malpractice in polling was spotted as mentioned supra.

In a curious turn of event, the EC has called for sort of explanation from the Chief Election Officer (CEO), Orissa, as to why has she not reported rigging in two booths, i.e. Booth No.112 (Bindhyagiri) and Booth No.114 (Gamein) under Nayagarh constituency even though the TV channels have telecasted the rigging live. On investigation the Revenue Divisional Commissioner is convinced that there was rigging not in two but in four of the Booths.

When 22 Booths under Nawarangpur Loksabha constituency are slated for re-polling, suspicion continues to affect the masses in all the areas where voters had to be frustrated because of defective EVMs.

Tampering with EVMs and allied malpractice apart, attempts to capture Booths by BJD goons has shocked the State such as the one exposed in the Talakusuma Booth under Patakura constituency.

Attempts were made to capture this Booth by imported goons led by a BJD member of the outgoing Assembly from Rourkela constituency.

As the genuine voters objected and the local peoples instantly rushed to the rescue of the Booth, the goons fled with the help of the police; but the MLA of BJD could not escape. He was arrested by police and later enlarged. But when Police had admitted him in the SCB Medical College, Cuttack for treatment needed, if any, as he had reported of beating by the people, he had told a major broadsheet that the son of Bedu (BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agrawal) and his associates fled leaving him behind as a result of which he had to suffer physically. His plea was that he had gone into the Booth as a BJD observer.

It was a Pyari Mohapatra induced attempt to capture the Booth, alleges Bijay Mohapatra, BJP’s contesting candidate.

His allegation does not look wild in view of the fact that the BJD’s parallel supremo had preferred to declare publicly prior to the polling that he had ousted Bijoy from BJD and has made a vow to keep him out of legislative power.

Let us for the time being ignore Pyari’s assertions as mere sophomoric braggadocios of a retired government servant who after carrying out orders of political bosses all through his career is just basking in his surprise success in power-politics.

But, the apolitical community has a right to know as to why the CEO has kept mum as yet on this scenario of Booth Capturing?

Why has she not initiated appropriate action against the BJD MLA, who had admittedly entered into the Booth without any authority?

His plea that he had gone there as an observer of BJD cannot be countenanced as no advance intimation within the legal parameter was in public with the details of the said person vesting in him the authority to enter into the Booth and to interfere with the works of the polling staff as he has admitted.

When the BJD MLA has admitted that Bedu’s son and his Associates were involved with the free-for-all inside the Booth in question, why the CEO has not asked the Police as to how could they flee?

Why she is not clarifying as to what had really happened in the Booth, when in view of EC version on records, Video cameras must have captured the pictures live?

Moreover the occurrences in Talakusumi Booth of Patkura matches with the expressed motive of the BJD’s parallel supremo and circumstantial evidences indicate that the BJD had tried to capture the Booth.

So, why the CEO has been sleeping over this evident assault on democracy by the goons of BJD?

The parallel supremo of BJD has tried to create a cover for the CEO by alleging before the Press that she is anti-BJD. The CEO should not be pro-BJD or anti-BJD. She in fact should not be in favor or against any political party.

But Pyari’s allegation against the CEO looks more like a calculated attempt to detract public attention from her negligence to act rapidly in discernible instances of rigging and Booth capturing and from tampering with EVMs that, like the notorious one at Cuttack’s Nimasahi, visibly transformed the votes in favor of any candidate to votes for the BJD.

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