Congress alleges postal ballot 'malpractice' in Madhya Pradesh, officials deny allegations
Congress alleged postal ballots were taken out from the treasury room and handed over to staffers who were handling it in the way they wished.
The Congress on Monday submitted a memorandum to the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer seeking action against the Balaghat collector for allegedly taking postal ballots out of the strong room and indulging in malpractice.
Assembly polls were held in MP on November 17, while votes will be counted on December 3.
Chief electoral officer Anupam Rajan denied the allegations and said local Congress leaders have expressed satisfaction at the procedure.
"The service votes (postal ballots) were being segregated Assembly wise by taking them out from the strong room in the presence of authorized Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party agents. These were kept in the boxes meant for it," Rajan told PTI.
A total 429 service votes of Baihar, 553 of Lanjhi, 452 of Paraswada, 1308 of Balaghat, 391 of Waraseoni and 126 of Katangi were segregated in the presence of authorized agents, he added.
JP Dhanopia, Congress vice president and the party's in charge of the Election Commission, in the memorandum, alleged postal ballots were taken out from the treasury room and handed over to staffers who were handling it in the way they wished.
Therefore, their (postal ballots) sanctity is under suspicion now, Dhanopia said, and sought the suspension of Balaghat Collector Girish Chandra Mishra and all the employees associated with the process.
Mishra, in a statement issued by the public relations department of the collectorate, said the strong room, which has been created in the local tehsil office, was opened in the presence of authorised polling agents of parties to segregate incoming postal ballots.
As per the process, ballots coming in through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETBPS) from various districts are segregated Assembly wise at 3 pm every day after opening the strong room, he said.
It is then carefully placed in bundles as per rules laid down by the Election Commission, he was quoted as saying.
The statement from the collector further said someone shot a video of the process and circulated it to cause confusion.
Action will be taken under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate disobedience of order duly promulgated by a public servant empowered to do so, it added.
Meanwhile, taking serious note of the matter, the divisional commissioner suspended nodal officer Himmat Singh on Monday evening for negligence in conducting the process, an official said.
In a video statement, Congress city unit president Shafkat Khan said the issue was the result of some confusion and his party was satisfied with the process after receiving an explanation and clarification from poll authorities.
Poll agents of the Congress and other parties also signed a letter and submitted it to the election officials in which details of the entire process of segregating postal ballots were mentioned.