Bogus voting: Kerala CM comes out in support of chief electoral officer

Kerala CM comes out in support of Chief Electoral Officer
Pinarayi, in a press meet, said there are mechanisms in a democracy to counter the malpractices like bogus voting.
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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Tuesday came out in support of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena, who has been under fire from the CPM for his report on bogus voting, and said the CEO was functioning within his legal framework.

Pinarayi, in a press meet, said there are mechanisms in a democracy to counter the malpractices like bogus voting.

"Our democratic system is very secure. If there is any wrongdoing, there are mechanisms in our democracy to initiate action against such incidents," he said.

The CEO had on April 29 said that three women, including a panchayat member, had cast bogus votes in Kasargod constituency.

Rejecting the charge, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had criticised the CEO and alleged that Meena was acting in accordance with UDF's ploy.

"The Chief Electoral Officer has to take a stand as per his post and authority. Why should we be worried about his actions? The political parties might have various opinions on various issues. The CEO has rules and framework to discharge his

duties. He normally functions within that framework," Pinarayi said.

The CPM has rejected the charge, maintaining that the three women were present in the booth only to perform "open voting", which involves assisting voters who are unable to cast their votes independently.

It has welcomed a probe into the allegations.

However, Meena had said that he was hearing the term "open voting" for the first time.

"As per our law, there is no open vote. When I asked the collector about this, he told me the term may be the colloquial parlance for assisted or companion voting. Maybe there is a local reference like that, but even in the case of a companion vote, the voter must be present inside the booth. They could have brought the voter in a wheelchair," he had told media earlier.

The CEO had also confirmed that three Congress-led UDF workers had cast bogus votes as alleged by the ruling CPM-headed Left Democratic Front in Kasaragod constituency in the April 23 Lok Sabha polls.

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