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SDF moves EC seeking deferment of Poklok Kamrang by-poll

October 18, 2019 05:20 PM

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA:Alleging rampant poll-related violence and failure of the police to contain the unrest, the opposition SDF on Friday urged the Election Commission to defer by-polls to Sikkim's Poklok Kamrang Assembly constituency by four weeks.

Sikkim Chief Minister P.S. Golay is one of the candidates at Poklok Kamrang, which is slated to go to the hustings alongside two other constituencies Martam-Rumtek and Gangtok on October 21.

Sikkim Democratic Front spokesperson and former Sikkim Lok Sabha MP Prem Das Rai, who met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra during the day, submitted a representation seeking the bye-election be deferred by four weeks "to ensure a level playing field for all the parties".

Asking for the panel's intervention in view of the rampant poll-related violence and "the failure of the police to contain the same", Rai pointed out that Golay, who is not a member of the Sikkim State Legislative Assembly, has been inciting violence against SDF leaders in a 'desperate bid' to win the election and continue as the Chief Minister.

Calling Poklok Kamrang a "safe seat" for the SDF, which has held it since 1994, Rai accused the SKM of "indulging in many electoral offences" including an attack on the convoy of SDF president and former chief minister Pawan Chamling on October 10, while he was on his way to a poll rally.

Chamling, who had contested and won from two seats in the assembly polls held earlier this year, vacated Poklok Kamrang, which necessitated the by-election.

"However, though the police was aware of the election rally that was scheduled to take place, they failed to make adequate arrangements for security, " Rai said in a statement.

Rai also claimed that several sharp weapons were found by the police in various vehicles in the constituency, triggering apprehensions of "further violence".

"All these actions by the SKM have created an atmosphere of fear and as a result the SDF leaders, volunteers and supporters have not been able to campaign in an effective manner, " he said.

He alleged that the election was not being contested in a "free and fair" manner, and expressed fears that voters won't be allowed to exercise their franchise.

"If the elections cannot be deferred, the Election Commission should intervene and issue directions to the local authorities and police officials to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections, " he said.

Rai claimed that after giving him a patient hearing, and taking cognisance of the SDF's petition, the EC has deputed Special Observers to oversee the election process in the constituency.

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