Election commission orders repoll in 'record' 573 booths today

Bengal election commission
Calcutta: The Bengal election commission has ordered repolling in 573 booths in 19 of the state's 20 districts on Wednesday, the largest such exercise in recent memory mirroring the scale of violence and malpractices during Monday's rural elections.
Senior officials admitted in private that they could not recall the last time re-polling took place on such a large scale in any election in the state.
They said there was little scope for recommending repolls in only a handful of booths after Monday's widespread snatching of ballot boxes, destruction of ballot papers and several other irregularities.
The 573 booths constitute around 1.2 per cent of the 47,451 booths where voting was held on Monday. "The decision by the poll panel has certainly gone a long way to vindicate Opposition claims of foul play on an unprecedented scale on Monday," said a senior state official.
He said the administration was in the process of ensuring tight security for Wednesday's re-polling between 7am and 5pm.
The commission announced that the re-polling would be held in all districts barring Jhargram, taking the decision after going through reports and recommendations from the districts on Monday's elections.
North Dinajpur tops the repoll list with 73 booths, followed by Murshidabad (63 booths), Nadia (60 booths), North 24-Parganas (59 booths), Malda (55 booths) and Cooch Behar (52 booths).

An administrative source pointed out that these were the districts that had reported the maximum complaints of malpractice and violation within a few hours of polling on Monday.
"Reports of the polling officers established the allegations. So the commission decided to order repolling in all such booths where irregularities took place," said a source.
Declaring re-polls in 573 booths was not easy for the commission as the state government did not want to give its nod to such a large number. But the commission stood its ground and cited reports from poll officials about gross violations of election rules, said sources.
They said initially the commission was keen on keeping the number of booths for re-polls to a bare minimum but had to change its mind once reports from the observers and presiding officers started pouring in.
An official said the observers and the poll officials had also wanted to limit fresh voting, apprehending violence during the re-polling. Initially, it was decided that repolling would be recommended only in booths were ballot boxes were stolen or ballot papers damaged.
"But even that number went well past 500. The number could well have reached 1,500 if the poll officials had factored in other incidents like proxy voting and rigging," he added.
Sources said top government officials held a series of meetings with chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday before giving clearance to the election commission panel to announce the number of booths for Wednesday's re-polls.
"It was a tough task for the officials to get her approval. But they held their ground, convincing her that this was the absolute minimum," said a source.

 The Telegraph
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The Bengal election commission has ordered repolling in 573 booths in 19 of the state's 20 districts on Wednesday, the largest such exercise in recent memory mirroring the scale of violence and malpractices during Monday's rural elections.

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