CPI-M tampered with voting machines in Tripura: Congress

Agartala, April 4 (IANS) The ruling CPI-M has used the state administration to tamper with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the recent assembly elections, state Congress unit chief Sudip Roy Barman said here Thursday.

He added that the ruling party had also exploited the illiteracy and poverty of the state’s voters in the Feb 14 polls.

The CPI-M-led Left Front returned to power with a landslide victory, winning 50 of the 60 seats. The Left Front was elected to power for the fifth time in a row in Tripura. It was also the seventh time that the combine was forming a government in the state.

The Congress, which Tuesday held a poll review meeting, analysed the party’s performance in the assembly polls. Among other causes cited for the electoral losses were sabotage, internal feud and organisational weakness of the party.

“The ruling CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist)-led Left Front government has mastered the art of utilising the poverty and illiteracy of the people to retain power,” Barman told reporters.

Accusing the Left government of tampering with the EVMs, Barman said: “The EVMs used in the Tripura polls were suspected of being tampered with during the Assam assembly elections in 2011. A case is still pending in the Supreme Court on these machines. How could these controversial EVMs be used in the Tripura polls?”

“We are discussing the matter with highly qualified engineers, experts and lawyers. If we find reason enough to knock on the doors of the law, we will certainly file a case in the apex court,” the state Congress chief said.

Reacting to the Congress poll analysis and Barman’s comments, CPI-M state secretary Bijan Dhar said the Congress leader’s allegations were an insult to the voters of the state.

Barman claimed that the Congress and other opposition candidates were defeated with a narrow margin, as low as 65 and up to 2,000 votes, in at least 20 assembly constituencies.

The state Congress president said that in the distribution of doles in cash and kind, mass threats were issued to rural voters, and officials behaved like ruling party cadres: These were among the causes that explained the losses of Congress candidates, Barman said.

“We are about to file applications through the Right to Information Act to know the exact amount of cash given through cheques to people under central government schemes, just ahead of the elections,” the Congress leader said.

Referring to the reports of post-poll political violence across the state, Barman alleged that 10 “political murders” have taken place in the state since the end of the poll process. He demanded that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar work to stop such incidents.

The main opposition Congress managed only 10 seats in the 60-member house in the Feb 14 polls. The Congress’s poll partners Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura and National Conference of Tripura drew blanks, contesting ten seats and one seat, respectively.

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