Gangotk: The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) has demanded the Election Commission of India (ECI) to cancel the postal ballot for assembly elections taken so far, and issue fresh ones to state government employees engaged in polling duty.
Addressing a media conference in Gangtok, SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling claimed that the government employees, especially those in the lower-level posts, are being pressured regarding their postal ballots and as such, free and fair polling has been compromised, he said.
Khaling said that the demand for fresh postal balloting was based on complaints against a handful of government officials and police officers who are allegedly working for the interests of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF). He also pointed to the controversial post-poll survey done in different constituencies of the state by a Delhi-based organisation using local students and lecturers.
The SKM came to know about the survey on Tuesday in which the group of lecturers and students were found conducting the survey using the dummy copies of ballot papers.
“We have taken strong objection towards this post-poll survey as it was done in total disregard of the ECI notification that prohibits such activity in Sikkim till May 19. Despite this, the survey was done across Sikkim. Most objectionable part is that there was a question in the survey asking which party was given the vote. This goes against the creed of elections wherein the secrecy of voting is paramount. Our party has filed a police complaint against the university lecturers who supervised this survey,” said the SKM spokesperson.
Khaling said that the three lecturers should be dismissed from their service as they have ‘misused the innocent students’. “The students were also given some cash by the lecturers before going to survey. Where did the cash come from? Most concerning part is that the survey was done in those selected areas where there is SKM stronghold and this is a conspiracy to influence the postal ballots. Khaling alleged that the SDF is responsible for the survey.
The SKM spokesperson also appealed the ECI to take action on the complaints submitted by the party against certain government officers for alleged misuse of their power during the election process.
Meanwhile, SKM workers on Wednesday stopped a group of persons purportedly from a national news channel from conducting an exit-poll in different areas of Maneybong-Dentam constituency.
The team was handed over to the Dentam police station and necessary action has been initiated by the police based on the instructions of the Returning Officer, the release said.
On the survey issue, East Sikkim DC Kapil Meena said, “The concerned professors of Sikkim State University have submitted written explanations on the survey matter to this office during the hearing conducted today. They were released from Sadar PS after detention yesterday [Tuesday] night on apprehension of breach of peace. There has not been any fake or forged ballot papers or postal ballots found anywhere and the ballot kind of paper used in survey is different from actual ballots. Further it has been found to be a survey from CSDS, an NGO, and no political connections have been seen so far in this matter. Finally the concerned teams have been instructed to immediately call off/stop any such survey which has exit polls in it and no such MCC violation must happen till the conclusion of the election process. Notices of MCC voilation and of Section 126 A of RP Act 1951 will be issued to all concerned including the NGO CSDS.