An Election Commission probe has confirmed largescale "booth capturing" in the Tripura West constituency, which voted in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 11. The poll body came to this conclusion after conducting a probe into a complaint of "massive poll rigging and booth capturing by the ruling BJP" lodged by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) after voting day. Ten cases of booth capturing have been registered, the Tripura West District Collector said.
The Left party has demanded repolling at as many as 464 booths to rectify the issue.
According to the investigation report exclusively accessed by NDTV, instances of booth capturing and rigging were observed in seven assembly segments of the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency. "It is apparent from viewing of pre-recorded video footage that the poll process was vitiated in eight polling stations," the report filed by the Tripura West District Collector stated.
The probe revealed that polling agents had "intimidated people to vote in favour of certain candidates" at the Chechuria BS School polling station under the Mohanpur assembly segment as well as the Debipur gram panchayat office polling station under the Kamalasagar assembly segment. It also found three people "influencing voters" at the Brajapur high school polling station under the Charilam assembly segment.
Polling agents and political activists were found committing similar violations at the Bara Narayan HS School and the Himpatpur SB School stations in the Dhanpura assembly segment. The probe report also found that the officials at the Sunar Tilla high school polling station under the Belonia assembly segment had cast multiple votes in a bid to influence the electoral outcome.
An Election Commission source said it was after taking these instances into account that polls in the Tripura East Lok Sabha constituency were deferred from April 18 (the second phase) to 23. "We are in the process of getting more poll officials and observers, besides central security forces, to ensure free and fair elections in the state," he added.