Kannur: After the Election Commission of India ordered a repoll in one booth in Kasaragod and two in Kannur Lok Sabha constituencies, the United Democratic Front (UDF) fears opponent Left Democratic Front (LDF) would try to reduce polling percentage in the Pamburuthi booth here to prove that bogus voting took place in this stronghold of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
The EC had ordered repoll at Pamburuthi after nine men were found casting bogus votes in the name of 12 people residing in the Gulf and the role of Muslim League activists were under a cloud.
Anticipating Left trouble to cast its rivals in poor light, the UDF leaders are making efforts to bring its committed voters to the booth during repoll on May 19, nearly a month after the state went to the polls.
“There will be at least one more vote for the UDF candidate compared to the tally during the initial polling at this booth. IUML finds this (repoll) as a chance to prove ourselves right and this is the best chance for us,” said IUML district secretary Abdul Kareem Cheleri.
Cheleri and Satheesan Pacheni, the president of the Kannur District Congress Committee (DCC), is actively on the field in the absence of UDF's Kannur candidate K Sudhakaran, who is now undergoing treatment.
Nine IUML workers were charged with bogus voting in Pamburuthi booth, but Pacheni dismissed the allegations and said that the EC checked the edited visuals of the voting and they do not believe that the UDF workers were involved in any malpractice.
“The visuals were collected and produced the next day, with ample editing done to the footages. However, we welcome the Election Commission's decision for repolling. That would only increase the majority of the UDF candidate. There are conscious efforts by the CPM to reduce the polling percentage in Pamburuthi to prove that bogus voting took place on the first day of polling,” said Pacheni.
On the voting day last month, 82.95% polling was reported from the booth at the MA Upper Primary School at Pamburuthi.
The allegation against Muslim League activists emerged after the CPM was cornered over widespread electoral malpractices, especially in north Kerala, during the Lok Sabha elections last month.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted between the LDF and UDF workers when LDF candidate and sitting MP PK Sreemathy tried to visit households seeking a vote on Friday afternoon in Pamburuthi. Later police arrived and the LDF candidate continued her house visits with police protection.
In all repoll will be held in seven booths in Kerala.
Till date, Chief Electoral Officer has ordered cases to be filed against 17 persons for 20 cases of bogus votes identified in the state. Charges have been already slapped against them under Section 171 c (which relates to undue influence in elections), 171 d (related to impersonation in elections) and 171 f (penalty clause for both undue influence and impersonation during elections) of the Indian Penal Code.