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Hill TMC demands re-poll at 8 booths in Darjeeling

NB Khawas
The hill Trinamool Congress has demanded re-polling in eight booths of the Darjeeling Assembly Constituency alleging rigging by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters in the second phase of voting that ended on Sunday with a total polling percentage of 71.09.
On Sunday, the police arrested two GJM supporters – Genius Rai (31) and Pranesh Tamang (23) for casting false votes in booths 23/153 and 23/154. The two were released today as the offence comes under the bailable section of the IPC. And pointing at such offences, hill TMC general secretary NB Khawas told reporters his party demands re-polling at eight booths.
He said, “We cannot say outright there was massive rigging. But with the arrest of two persons and as per reports from our party agents, we have identified eight booths where the GJM indulged in rigging. We therefore, want re-polling in those booths.”
The eight booths comprise numbers 23/150, 23/15, 23/152 (St. Joseph’s College); 23/160 (Swami Vivekananda Primary School); 23/161 (Deshbandhu Library); 23/162 (Southfield College); 23/269 (Rangbang Tiffin Dara); and 23/270 (5th Mile Junior High School). The latter two booths fall near the India-Nepal border.
The TMC general secretary said his party would write to the Returning Officer and the District Election Officer. “In the two booths bordering Nepal, the presiding officer did not allow our polling agents to enter as they had reached some 15 minutes after the scheduled time. We have reports that outsiders have cast massive false votes in these two booths as they lie in the border area,” alleged Khawas.
Saradha Subba, the TMC candidate from Darjeeling, thanked the people for making the election a success and expressed gratitude towards the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) for supporting her. “The election was successful and voting took place peacefully. The JAP and GNLF must be thanked for extending support to us and I am sure we will emerge victorious,” she said.
Later in the day, GJM president Bimal Gurung issued a press statement thanking people. Expressing confidence of victory, he also thanked the Opposition for contesting the election in a fair manner and upholding democracy.
Meanwhile, polling personnel from Darjeeling deployed in Kalimpong staged a ‘chakka-jam’ this morning claiming the district administration had failed to provide them with vehicles for returning to Darjeeling. But the district administration responded quickly and made vehicles available to bring the polling personnel back to Darjeeling.
“Transport arrangement was available for the polling personnel. However, many of them decided to stay back and this was not planned. This morning, they demanded for vehicles, but our officials were engaged in scrutiny and other statutory work. However, the vehicles were arranged immediately,” said Anurag Srivastava, the Darjeeling DM and DEO. (EOIC)

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