In a startling revelation made by the Chief Electoral Officer of Kerala, Teeka Ram Meena on Monday, days after Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala went to polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 23, it was revealed that bogus voting was done by LDF members in the elections. The officer disclosed that three ladies affiliated to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) were involved in “bogus voting” in Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala.
The accused have been identified as Padmini, Saleena NP, and Sumayya KP.
The development came into the forefront two days after Teeka Ram Meena directed returning officers to submit a report following complaints by Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) regarding bogus voting by the Left cadres across Kasaragod district in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala had alleged that the CPI(M) has resorted to bogus voting fearing defeat in the elections. “From video evidence, it could be seen that the Left has cast around 5,000 bogus votes in Kasargod constituency,” PTI quoted Chennithala as saying. “We will take appropriate legal steps. We have warned the poll officials of such unlawful practices much before the polling day, but the authorities failed to take any action.”
On April 26, a video was aired by Mathrubhumi, a local news channel, which showed several people involved in bogus voting at polling booth number 19 in Kannur district. The visuals show a woman casting her vote twice, while another person is seen casting a bogus vote. Visuals also showed purported use of fake identity cards. Moreover, some political leaders can also be seen standing inside the polling booth while the voting took place.
Meanwhile, ANI quoted Meena as saying, “After receiving a factual report from the collector officers we have found that three ladies, affiliated to the Left party, voted twice in polling booth 19 of Payyannur in Kasargod parliamentary constituency. Particularly, two of them were not voters of that booth. It is an offence under Sections 171 C, F and D of Indian Penal Code.”
On being asked whether polling agents were also guilty of the crime, Meena said, “If the polling agents knew about it then they are also guilty of the offence. Also, polling agents have failed to conduct free and fair elections. On their part, it was a breach of election duty. We have directed the collector to conduct a detailed inquiry and take action against them accordingly.”
“One of the ladies was, in fact, the relieving agent for the LDF polling agent. So there was no doubt about the affiliation of the accused,” he added.
Kerala police have been asked to file an FIR and investigate the matter.
However, the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala Sunday rejected allegations of bogus voting at various polling booths in the Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency during elections on April 23 and welcomed any probe into the charges.
The Kasargod seat is considered to be the stronghold of the CPI(M). The Left was defeated from the seat the last time in 1984.
Voting for the 20 seats in Kerala concluded in the third phase of the election on April 23. A total voter turnout of 77.68 per cent was registered across the state, which was the highest in the last 30 years. Results of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections will be announced on May 23.