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EC to probe Chapra polls

A two-member EC team will be conducting a detailed inquiry into the complaints of booth capturing in Chapra Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.
PTI | By Nandini R. Iyer and Vijay Swaroop, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 30, 2004 10:31 AM IST

The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday decided that it would send a two-member team to Chapra to inquire into complaints of violence and booth-capturing. BJP candidate Rajiv Pratap Rudy had demanded that the election in that constituency be countermanded. EC sources said the team would leave for Chapra "latest by day after tomorrow".

On Wednesday, Rudy had petitioned the commission with "evidence" in the form of compact discs, video clippings and newspaper articles, to support his claim that supporters of his rival, RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, had interfered with the poll process. Senior RJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Prem Gupta, however, denied this. EC sources said a detailed inquiry would be conducted by the commission officials K.J. Rao and Ananth Kumar.

In addition to returning officers, presiding officers, bureaucrats, police officers and candidates, the inquiry team will also meet people who wish to respond to its public notice.

Since the team is expected to take at least two days to conduct the inquiry and one day to submit its report, it is unlikely that repolling can be ordered before May 5, the date on which the last phase of polling in Bihar is scheduled to take place.

In a similar case, the NDA on Thursday lodged a strong protest with the EC against alleged misuse of official machinery in UP and Bihar by the ruling parties.

Raising apprehensions about the possibility of widespread violence in these states in the next phases of polls, the alliance leadership sought deployment of additional security forces in sensitive constituencies.

A delegation of leaders from the BJP, JD(U) and the Akali Dal met the CEC T.S. Krishna Murthy and urged him that special observers be sent for monitoring 14 constituencies in UP and eight in Bihar in view of the sensitive nature of these seats.

Meanwhile, the Chapra police registered two cases against Rudy and his bodyguards, charging them with booth-capturing, indulging in scuffles, theft and intimidating voters during the election in Chapra. The cases have been registered on the basis of complaints lodged by an RJD activist Rajiv Singh. Rudy has also been charged with using abusive language at the time of polling at a booth in Amnaur.

Expressing surprise over the charges levelled against him, Rudy said, "The whole exercise is politically motivated. The case is false as the FIR was lodged after four days and that too on the RJD letterhead."

Talking to newspersons on his arrival in Patna, he wondered why the station diary was kept blank for so many days and why the initials of the chief judicial magistrate were missing.

The BJP leader said he was apprehending such mischief ever since the party made the demand for the countermanding of the elections in Chapra and had even informed the EC  about it.

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