EC staff get bouquet from RJD, brickbats from others
The perception about the role of EC observers during LS polls in Bihar varies widely. CP Thakur says he has no good words to speak about the conduct of observers appointed for Patna seat.
The popular perception about the role of Election Commission observers during Lok Sabha elections in Bihar varies widely. While some, notably KJ Alphonse in Madhepura on Wednesday, have been credited with an activist approach for ensuring fairness in the poll process, others have displayed the sab chalta hai (everything goes) attitude. So, how did the observers respond to the complaints about irregularities lodged by the leading contenders for the Patna Lok Sabha seat? HT spoke to them to find out:
I have no good words to speak about the conduct of observers appointed for the Patna Lok Sabha constituency. They were of no help to us. They did not take any action on the complaints of booth- capturing by RJD supporters.
There are specific instances of the indifferent attitude of the observers. On the polling day, I rang up the observers to inform them about the capturing of booths by RJD supporters in Danapur, Saguna More and diara areas, but none of them took notice of it. I had told one of the observers that RJD MLC Ghulam Ghaus had captured some booths in Danapur market, but to no avail. Similarly, when informed about booth-capturing at Edward High School in Phulwari locality, “sab theek hai” was all that he could say.
The observers also did not take any action despite being repeatedly told about booth-capturing in Diara areas of Danapur by RJD MP Vijay Yadav. Besides, the observers had turned a blind eye to the complaints regarding non-deployment of the CPMF at booths in rural areas of the constituency. At Phulwari and Danapur booths, there were only lathi-wielding homeguards, who allowed RJD supporters a free run. Even special observer L V Saptrishi did not take any action when told about non-deployment of forces at the booths. I can say, as a candidate, my complaint list was probably the longest in the country
I was really pained by the way the observers responded to complaints regarding deletion of names of from electoral rolls of all the three assembly segments of Patna Lok Sabha constituency. The special observer and three Patna observers — SM Archarya, Ashish Bahuguna and DBRV Prasad—failed to curb poll-related irregularities here.
CP Thakur, BJP candidate
Good for nothing
You had better not ask me what kind of role the observers played in the conduct of elections in Patna. They proved useless. The two general observers did not respond to any of the complaints we lodged about capturing of booths by RJD supporters. On the day of polling (April 20), I had complained to the observers about rigging and booth-capturing in Diara, Phulwari and the main city areas. A mob of about 25-50 RJD supporters had captured the Collegiate School booth soon after the polling started. The observers did not even bother to enquire about the incident.
The observers proved particularly ineffective in dealing with complaints regarding non-deployment of the CPMF at booths in RJD strongholds. It is an open secret now that homeguards were deliberately deputed at booths in rural areas so that RJD supporters could ‘manage’ peaceful rigging.
Moreover, the election to the Patna constituency was a total farce, but the observers did not recommend re-polling at any of the 40 booths demanded by my party.
The behaviour of the observers was disappointing, especially in the light of the fact that people have, of late, started considering the Election Commission as a ‘watchdog’ of democracy due to the commitment shown by former CECs like T N Seshan and Lyngdoh.
Ranjan Prasad Yadav, Sampoorna Vikas Dal candidate
Failed to do justice
Unfortunately, I had a sad experience with the observer. On the day of polling (April 20) in Patna, I had telephonically complained to the observer that RJD workers were issuing fake residential certificates at booth nos. 16 and 17 to facilitate bogus voting. I had brought this to the notice of the returning officer and the EC as well.
But, no action was taken. Such was the situation in Patna that each and every booth had been ‘captured’ after 11 am by either BJP workers or RJD supporters. There was simply no one to listen to my complaints.
Worse still, my car was stopped at Danapur and I was unnecessarily harassed despite the fact that I had a valid vehicle pass. I do not feel the observer did justice to his role.
Mohammad Shahabuddin, Samajwadi Party candidate
Played a satisfactory role
Personally, I do not have any complaints against the EC observer for the Patna Lok Sabha constituency. The observer was all help and ordered repolling at certain booths, though not at all the booths where I had demanded it, following my complaint about rigging and firing by BJP supporters. I am fully satisfied that he worked impartially.
I can say this because the observer was equally judicious in rejecting the unsubstantiated BJP demand for repoll at 54 booths. He had ordered repoll only at 18 booths of Patna.
But I will differ with the decision about a polling booth in Bikram Assembly segment (I do not exactly remember the number) where Paswans are the majority voters.
The presiding officer wrote in his report that voters had boycotted polls there, while the actual case was that the electronic voting machine (EVM) was out of order. So, we have to take everything with a pinch of salt.
Ram Kripal Yadav, RJD candidate