West Tripura Loksabha Vote - 2019 Who is responsible for the looted vote?

Jayanta Debnath

On 11th April, 2019, the people of Tripura saw an unprecedented election process which the people of Tripura had never seen after its independence since, the princely state of Tripura was merged with the Union of India in 1949. Tripura became a Union Territory on 1st November  1956, and attained the status of a full-fledged state on 21 January 1972. And after that the people of Tripura have witnessed and participated in so many elections of Loksabha, State legislative Assembly and local body’s elections. But Tripura never had been blamed for such large scale vote rigging in the Lok Sabha polls in West Tripura constituency except in 1989 and 1991.

It is  everyone’s question now, who is responsible for the allegations of looting votes in the West Tripura seat of Loksabha held on April 11. 2019? The self-criticism will start from the Election Commission and all the top officials of the police. To protect the democracy of the state and the country, it is important to take effective steps to ensure that all voters can cast their votes. But a good number of voters were forced not to go to the polling stations and denied their democratic right in West Tripura seat of Loksabha held on April 11 2019.  Are concerned ECI officials and responsible high officials of state police department will self-analyze the matter so that in future no such incidents can happen in our state? 

Actually, there is no exception to administrative action in our state. This resulted in the repeat of the same crime this time also. Whether it is a crime in social field or an offense in the administrative area, in rare cases, the police and judiciary can establish an instance in the system. So there is a lot of repetition of the same crime-based incident. The latest example of which is the looting of votes in West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency. This is not the case that happened in this state first time. But now what has happened in the state in the Lok Sabha election this time has faded all the records and history of the past. 

The State Election Commission also acknowledged that on April 11, 2019 the vote in the West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency was not properly done. Many Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) , Presiding Officers, Micro Observers, Polling Agents did not perform their duties properly or did deliberately shirk . Both the main opposition parties, Congress and the CPM have demanded re-poll in the entire West Tripura Parliamentary constituency. If the re-polls of the entire constituency is not possible,  the separate list of where repolling is needed again was submitted by Congress and CPM to the Election Commissions office  in Agartala and Delhi. And accordingly, it has been seen that at least 850 booths in West Tripura constituency have to go for repoll again as per the demands made by the opposition parties. This number is more than half of the entire West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency. 

Not only Tripura, it is rare in the history of India that a Lok Sabha constituency has  voted and opposition parties have demanded re-polls in 50% of the polling stations where voters were not properly able to cast their votes. Especially, the general community of the minority voters has also been barred from voting in the name of a political party. And as a result of which, in the name of taking extra security measures, the East Tripura Lok Sabha elections was deferred on April 23 instead of April 18. Accordingly, the 23 April, parliamentary vote in East Tripura constituency has been peaceful and free of charge, except for a minor incidents. All parties of CPI(M), Congress and BJP have acknowledged the peaceful voting in East Tripura Lok Sabha constituency and thanked the police and the Election Commission for voting being free and fare. 

So, the question can be raised here, why and how the voting process was peaceful in East Tripura constituency, but why was it not done in West Tripura constituency? After analyzing the answer to this question, it can be said that the ruling party  as well as  the Election Commission officials and the police administration cannot avoid their liabilities in this regard. State Election officials, outside the state observers of the Election commission and many responsible officers of the state police department, did not perform their duties properly on that day. DGP Akhil Kumar Shukla also has the responsibility as much as  CEO,  Sriram Tarikantanta as the top election officer. Both the top officials cant deny their highest responsibilities, although the   DGP tried to take cosmetic action by removing the ADG Rajiv Singh, who was responsible for the law and order situation. As a result, the other police officers would like to keep themselves away from such work in the future. And his best example is: ADG VS Yadav. When Rajiv Singh was removed from the post of ADG (L&O) and the name of Yadav was proposed as ADG (L&O), Yadav straightaway  denied taking the responsibility. How can a senior police officer disobey the administrative direction in such a critical time as the Lok Sabha elections? Under what circumstances, why did Mr Yadav not want to take that responsibility? DGP or CEO - What's the answer? 

Along with this, the office of the Chief Election Commission of Delhi sent instructions to take strict punishments against the private people involved in the vote looting , but no police action was taken.  Why not take action? Many voters in many places themselves also made the videos and the footage of these polls looted visuals and pictures uploaded in various social media platform and groups, holding them in their mobile cameras, or in Facebook or YouTube channels. In addition, many such cases of irregularities in polling stations were found in the Election Commission's web cameras too. Why did the police administration  not take actions by identifying them who blocked the road of ordinary people in the voting? What will be the reply of the CEO or DGP? If it is possible for the sake of the argument, then Rajiv Singh has given the BJP cadres all the time to vote for the BJP on the day of voting in the West. He is not here now. Now, why does DGP identify the culprits now and take effective action against the vote looters and the election functionaries involved in creating chaos during the polls. What's your fear Right now CEO or DGP Sahev, when the BJP leadership also says that on 11 April in the West constituency of the people who blocked the voters in the streets or broke the camera at the polling stations  or in other ways, they are not the people of BJP. Why DGP is  silent after BJPs such statements too? Why Taranikanta Saheb is sitting silently by just giving an order to take action against the accused? Who will take action against those culprits who have created chaos in various polling stations?

Besides, instead of taking effective action against the government employees or presiding officers who have helped in the vote loot, why  they are being granted bail from the police station? It is not possible to take strict exemplary punishments against those vote looters, instead of helping to save them?  Why CEO, DGP are protecting their interests? If the people like CEO or DGP who have trusted the people to protect democracy, play such roles, Where will the common people go?


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