2019 polls: Bogus votes were cast in Kasargod constituency, says CEO

Teeka Ram Meena

Thiruvananthapuram: “We will conduct a detailed investigation into the role of the poll officials at the booth. The web-casting was arranged to capture those engaged in bogus voting. It helped us to prima facie conclude that bogus voting took place. We have seen that two-three persons were engaged in bogus voting,” said Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena yesterday.

The CEO claimed that in the 23 April Lok Sabha elections three women, one of who was a panchayat member, had cast bogus votes in Kasargod constituency. He further said an enquiry would be held into the role of the polling officials.

His remarks comes after a TV channel aired CCTV visuals of the polling booth showing the three women voting more than twice at booth number 17 and 19 at AUP School Pilathara in Kannur district. It is part of Kasaragod constituency. The video also showed some local leaders inside the polling booth while the voting took place.

The ruling party CPI(M) has however rejected the bogus voting charge. It has said that the three women were doing open voting and assisting voters who were unable to exercise their franchise independently.

The CEO however said he was hearing the term ‘open voting’ for the first time. “As per our law, there is no open vote. When I asked the Collector about this, he told me the term might have been used in colloquial parlance for assisted or companion vote. Maybe there is a local reference like that. Even companion vote, the voter must be present inside the booth. They could have brought the voter in wheel chair,” said the CEO while speaking to reporters.

He said his office would send the report to the Election Commission. The CEO said all options are open and parties could file an election petition in court after the declaration of the results. The CEO also said the incidents involving the women come under the provision of impersonation under Indian Penal Code.

Kasaragod is considered the stronghold of CPI(M), which last tasted defeat here in 1984. The party has fielded former MLA KP Satheesh Chandran from Kasaragod, thrice represented by veteran A K Gopalan. Congress has fielded senior leader Rajmohan Unnithan to wrest the seat from the Left.

NT Bureau