Kerala Chief Electoral Officer TR Meena has confirmed charges of bogus voting at a poll booth in Kannur district, which falls in the Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency, during the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Hours after voting was completed on April 23, the Congress alleged that three women had cast their votes twice in violation of rules. It also posted videos backing their claim on social media.
“The preliminary report submitted by the returning officer of the district has confirmed that three women indulged in bogus voting by casting their votes twice. Two of them were not even residents of the area falling under that particular booth. A preliminary inquiry has found the women to be supporters of the LDF,” Mr Meena told reporters today. The LDF or Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala is led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
“The returning officer has been asked to file police complaints against the three women. Legal action will also be taken against the poll officials of this booth because they failed to fulfil their election duties,” the Chief Electoral Officer said.The Communist Party of India (Marxist) 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. News agency PTI quoted Mr Meena as saying that as one of the three women seen engaged in “bogus voting” is a serving panchayat member, she may be required to step down from the post. He also claimed 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 told reporters.
Kannur is seen as a Left bastion.