Chapra rigging: Election Commission team begins probe

Updated on May 03, 2004 02:00 PM IST

A two-member team of the Election Commission (EC) has held meetings with the contestants, the district returning officer and some complainants.

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PTI | ByMayank S Singh and BK Singh, Patna/chapra

A two-member team of the Election Commission (EC), set up to probe complaints of poll rigging and violence during the Chapra Lok Sabha elections on April 26, on Sunday held meetings with the contestants, the district returning officer and some complainants.

All the contestants agreed on one point, that is, the elections in Chapra were rigged. While BJP candidate Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Abhay Raj Kishore of BSP and Bachcha Prasad Biru of Samajwadi Party contended that RJD men had let loose a reign of terror in the area on the polling day, Laloo Prasad Yadav said elections were by and large peaceful and blamed Rudy supporters for rigging and violence.

The Samajwadi Party candidate said it was free-for-all in Chapra on April 26. “Whichever party got a chance, indulged in booth grabbing. If the BJP supporters looted 50 booths, the RJD men must have captured 150 booths,” he said.

Rudy was with the EC team for nearly 45 minutes. He told Hindustan Times that he had presented the facts before the EC team and was satisfied with the meeting. Laloo spent about 30 minutes with the EC team, but refused to divulge the details.

Earlier, the EC team, comprising KJ Rao and Ananth Kumar, left for Chapra soon after their arrival at Patna airport from New Delhi. RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav met them at the airport itself. According to sources, Laloo expressed to the EC officials his desire to depose before them in Chapra at 2 pm.

Talking to reporters before leaving for Chapra, Rao said "we will look into the complaints, besides examining the allegations against the election observers in Chapra.”

The EC team, on way to Chapra, stopped at several places in the constituency and met the people to get a first person accounts of what happened on April 26.

They left behind the state officials and security guards accompanying them and met the villagers. While the locals at Gangajal in Sonepur assembly segment of the constituency impressed upon the members that the election was peaceful, hardly 5 km way at Bharpura voters alleged that the district administration was unfair and attempted to rig the elections in favour of the RJD chief.

Meanwhile, the BJP and JD(U) leaders have smelt some foul play in the meeting Laloo had with the EC officials at the Patna airport. Senior party leader Chandra Mohan Rai alleged that Laloo was trying to influence the EC probe. “What was the point of Laloo meeting them at the airport when a meeting was already scheduled at Chapra only a few hours later,” Rai asked. He alleged that Laloo was using Bihar chief secretary KAH Subramanian, who happens to be very close to chief election commissioner T S Krishna Murthy, to influence the visiting EC team.

A BJP team, comprising Rai, Navin Kishore Prasad Sinha, Vinay Singh, Mangal Pandey and Janardan Sigriwal, met the EC team and presented facts before them.

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