Repolling in Chandragiri: Naidu says Election Commission decision 'unethical, unconstitutional'

File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Photograph:( ANI )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India May 16, 2019, 10.56 PM (IST)

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu Thursday criticised the Election Commission's order to hold re-polling in five booths in the Chandragiri Assembly constituency as unethical and unconstitutional.

Thirty-four days after voting was held in the constituency, the EC ordered repoll based on a report by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer, and without waiting for the recommendations of a panel set up for this purpose, Naidu alleged.

On the contrary, the poll panel on May 15 relieved West Bengal Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya for having interfered in the elections process by directing the state's CEO, he said.

In a representation to the EC about the repolling ordered in his state, the incumbent Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister said, "...It is an injustice. (It is) unfortunate, unethical and unconstitutional." 

Naidu demanded the EC play a "neutral role" to facilitate free and fair election without being "partisan at the instance of any particular party".

"Hence, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissions are requested to take steps to restore the confidence of the people in the EC and to create a level playing field between the BJP-allies and other parties in the country," he added.

Chandragiri, located in Chittoor district, is one of the 175 assembly constituencies in the state. There are total of 25 parliamentary constituencies.

Both assembly and Lok Sabha elections were held together in Andhra Pradesh on April 11. The votes will be counted on May 23.

The Election Commission Wednesday ordered repoll on May 19 in five polling stations in the Chandragiri Assembly segment, under Chittoor LS constituency.

Repoll would be held at polling stations 321, 104, 316, 318 and 313 of both Assembly and Lok Sabha segments, the state CEO said in a release Wednesday.

YSR Congress MLA and contesting candidate Ch Bhaskar Reddy lodged a complaint with the Election Commission early this month that voters belonging to a particular community were not allowed to exercise their franchise when polling was conducted on April 11.

The CEO reportedly received some other complaints about the polling in the constituency from other sources as well. 

In West Bengal, the EC had on may 15 ordered the removal of West Bengal Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya and Additional Director General, CID, Rajeev Kumar, from their posts in the wake of violence between BJP and TMC workers in Kolkata.

Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, who is in charge of West Bengal, had said the action was taken against Bhattacharya "for having interfered in the process of conducting elections" by directing the state chief electoral officer, which he was not supposed to do. 

Story highlights

Thirty-four days after voting was held in the constituency, the EC ordered repoll based on a report by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer, and without waiting for the recommendations of a panel set up for this purpose, Naidu alleged.