We are herewith releasing the letter addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sunil Arora by Shri Nilotpal Basu, Member, Polit Bureau, CPI(M) on April 22, when he had gone to meet the CEC raising serious concerns about the polls in West Bengal and Tripura.
April 22, 2019
Dear Shri. Arora ji,
We must, at the very outset, express our deep sense of disappointment and anguish over the manner in which elections were presided over by the Election Commission of India in Tripura West Parliamentary constituency on 11th April 2019. Seldom have we seen such a level of subversion of the democratic elections in the history of this country. Thankfully, when we had brought the specific details of what happened on that day of shame, you had also recognized the gravity of the situation and decided to postpone the elections of the Tripura East (ST) parliamentary constituency which was to be held on 18th of April and scheduled it for 23rd April, specifically mentioning the collapse of the law and order situation making it unfit for holding a free and fair poll.
However, very little has happened on the ground on behalf of the Election Commission of India which is commensurate with your own assessment. We had made a preliminary assessment that re-polling needs to be undertaken in 464 polling booths across the constituency. With further evidence now available with us, it is clear that rigging was more widespread and, for all practical purposes what happened on the 11th April was a farce.
Therefore, we are forwarding the letter of Shri. Shankar Prasad Datta, the CPI(M) candidate, addressed to the Returning Officer of Tripura West parliamentary constituency demanding re-poling in 846 polling booths (Annexure-1). Our complaints with you earlier has now been vindicated by the official notice issued by the office of the district magistrate and collector, West Tripura district, dated 17th April announcing the lodging of FIR against people responsible for the rigging in certain booths which include polling agents and even polling officials (Annexure-2). This absolutely vindicates our contention. Thereafter many who were named in the FIRs were given bail and in some cases from the police station itself. Shankar Prasad Datta had subsequently made two representations to the Returning Officer dated 21st April on the illegality of the actions (Annexure-3&4). He has further written to you on 21st April (Annexure-5) to the effect that the action process of verification of video footages in the presence of all candidates and their representatives on 12th and 13th of April was also reduced to a farce.
It could be pertinent to mention that when the delegation of the CPI(M) led by Shri. Sitaram Yechury, including our leaders form Tripura and the two CPI(M) candidates met you, we had clearly stated that the Returning Officer of the Tripura West PC was not fit to undertake this polling responsibility as he had shown clear bias in shutting down a progressive Bengali daily ‘Desarkatha’ which was subsequently restored by judicial order.
Therefore, under the present circumstance the Election Commission of India has to facilitate the process of holding free and fair polling to 846 polling booths to sustain as semblance of credibility of the election process.
We are also annexing herewith a letter from Shri. Jitendra Choudhary CPI(M) candidate from for Tripura East (ST) PC to the Returning Officer and central police observer dated 13th April on the several measures which is needed to be undertaken for ensuring free and fair poll on the 23rd April (Annexure 6). We hope that, under no circumstance, will the incident which has sullied the democratic traditions of Tripura, should be repeated on 23rd April. However, apprehensions remain. I am hereby forwarding a letter from Shri. Gautam Das, Secretary, Tripura state committee of CPI(M) addressed to you (Annexure-7). We hope that the Election Commission will do whatever it takes, to do justice to the credibility of this institution built over the years.
I am also hereby forwarding the letter of Shri. Md Salim, CPI(M) candidate for the Raiganj PC in West Bengal. He has similarly demanded re-polling to 28 booths in different assembly segments of the constituency (Annexure 8). What is to be noted that the circumstances in which polls were rigged in these booths confirmed our worst apprehensions communicated to you on the 15th of April and handed over an exhaustive list of sensitive booths including these 28 which rigged.
It is of further concern that in most of them the precautionary arrangements like deployment of central forces, video streaming or CC TV were absent. In some of them even electricity was not available. Shri. Salim, the candidate was attacked on the day of the polling on 18th and this was personally informed to you over telephone as soon as the attack took place. The pattern in Raiganj has been similar to what happened in Tripura West, only on a lesser scale. We therefore, urge you to order re-polls for these 28 polling booths were elections had been held on the 18th.
Member, Polit Bureau