Discrepancy detected in polled, counted votes in Assam's Karimganj; oppn seeks repoll

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Guwahati, Jun 10 (PTI) Congress candidate for Assam's Karimganj Lok Sabha constituency Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, who lost to the BJP's sitting MP Kripanath Mallah by 18,360 votes, on Monday said he will approach Gauhati High Court over the issue of difference in the number of polled votes on the days of voting and counting.

Along with the Congress, another opposition party CPI (M) also demanded an investigation and repolling in the entire Lok Sabha constituency located in the Barak Valley of Assam.

According to information available on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Assam, a total of 11,36,538 people, excluding the service voters, had cast their votes in Karimganj in the second phase of elections on April 26.

However, the uploaded result sheet (Form 20) on CEO site says that the total number of votes polled on EVM was 11,40,349.

There are six assembly constituencies -- Hailakandi, Algapur-Katlicherra, Karimganj North, Karimganj South, Patharkandi and Ram Krishna Nagar. The number of votes counted in all these places shows a higher figure than the polled votes.

Addressing a press conference here, Choudhury said there were clear anomalies and it could be seen from Election Commission's data itself.

"There was massive rigging and it was done by the BJP MLAs of the area. They had told voters that bulldozers would be used to demolish their houses if they would not vote for BJP and it was reported in the media too," he alleged.

Choudhury said that he had filed a total of 19 complaints on the day of polling on April 26 over alleged rigging across the constituency, but the "Election Commission or local authorities did nothing" to stop it.

Prior to the voting, the Congress had filed one complaint regarding the possibility of rigging by the ruling BJP and urged the poll body to take necessary steps for free and fair voting, he added.

"Despite all these, I got more votes. However, now it has emerged that more votes were counted than the votes polled. Though the difference of 3,811 votes will not change the current result as my losing margin is higher, I strongly believe that the anomaly was even bigger," Choudhury said.

The Congress leader said he will approach Gauhati High Court and demand repolling in the entire Karimganj constituency in view of the "serious anomalies" committed by the ECI and its local administration.

He said that till a verdict is given by the court, the winning certificate of Mallah be kept in abeyance.

"It has to be found out how could more votes be inserted in the EVMs after polling ended and those were sealed. It is clear that there was no fairness in the election process," he added.

Meanwhile, repeated calls and messages to Assam CEO Anurag Goel for a response on the discrepancy remained unanswered. Other officials of the CEO Office said they were not the "authorised persons" to comment on the issue.

CPI (M)'s Assam state secretary Suprakash Talukdar, in a statement, criticised the ECI for not taking any timely action against allegations of widespread rigging in the constituency.

"Now, the role of ECI has come under the scanner with the discrepancy in polling and counting votes. This deserves an impartial inquiry and we demand repolling in the constituency," he added.

In the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, nine BJP MPs won, while its allies AGP and UPPL have won in one seat each. The Congress retained three seats. PTI TR TR ACD