Charges serious in Chapra, says EC team
They came, they saw and kept mum. One could make out nothing from the firm, no-nonsense attitude of KJ Rao and Ananth Kumar, the two members deputed by the Election Commission to enquire into the alleged electoral malpractices in Chapra Lok Sabha constituency.
The two-man team, which reached here on Sunday, returned to New Delhi on Monday afternoon after a whirlwind tour of the constituency.
Talking to a section of the media at the Patna airport, all that Rao said was that the team would submit its report to the commission “as soon as possible”. Reminded about a meeting of the EC slated for Tuesday in New Delhi on Chapra polls, Rao said they might first brief the commission and file the report later. “We need some time to submit a report. We have heard all the complaints and our primary work now is to file the report, which we will do at the earliest,” he said.
Responding to persistent queries on countermanding elections and his reputation as a strict officer, Rao said, “EC ke sare adhikari tough hote hain (All EC officers are tough)…You are asking for the contents of the report. We will submit our report and it is up to the commission to take a decision.”
Rao admitted that they had received complaints of violence, booth capturing as well as grievances against the district administration. He, however, refused to give more information, saying: “A matter in the court is said to be subjudice. Almost similar is the case here, too.”
The two EC emissaries, apart from talking to all the contesting candidates and all those who wanted to meet them, even visited the strong room, took out records and returned the documents in presence of the candidates.
Earlier in Chapra, a women's delegation, led by Chapra municipality chairperson Niloo Devi, met the team members merely to convince them that the polling here on April 26 was “peaceful, free and fair.” However, when one of the team members, K J Rao, asked them to show the voting mark on their fingers, they were found to be without it!
At booth no. 151 at Newaji Tola, some people told the EC team that a group of 10-12 persons riding motorcycles had opened indiscriminate fire on polling day. “The miscreants appeared to be policemen in plain clothes. After firing here, they proceeded towards other villages, repeated their act and looted booths for the RJD,” the complainants alleged.
At Ishopur village in Sonepur assembly segment, Dharmendra Kumar Singh and Sujeet Kumar Singh met the team members. Dharmendra, whose hand was in plaster cast, said that RJD workers had injured him on polling day.
Others also had similar stories to tell. At Dighwara, Rajan Rajesh said he could not cast his vote as RJD workers did not allow him to do so. At Sheetalpur, a youth, Ranjay, said “chor chor mausera bhai (There is solidarity among thieves).” Everyone captured booths in their respective areas of influence.
RJD nominee Laloo Prasad Yadav's side of the story was voiced by Pradeep Yadav at Doiganj. Pradeep told the EC team members that when BJP candidate Rajiv Pratap Rudy realised his defeat was certain, he demanded countermanding of the April 26 elections.
When the EC team visited Busand Khoripakar (booth no. 105) and Jalalbasti under Garakha PS, the people alleged that RJD workers had attacked the PO during the polling.