TODAY -

April 19 election put Manipur to shame: O Joy
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, April 24 2024: The Lok Sabha election held on April 19 in Manipur was a disgrace and a black mark on democracy, said veteran politician O Joy.

At his residence at Kakwa today, O Joy said the election for the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency and some segments of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency was not free and fair, and other countries have even discussed the election affairs.

This is very shameful for Manipur, he added.

The election was ill timed and it has further divided the already fragmented Manipur society.

There is a fear of increasing violence after the election, he said.

In a democratic country, elections which are held every 5 years are crucial for electing people's representatives and to form Government.

It is the biggest festival in a democracy but the environment in Manipur was and is not conducive for election, he said.

Since May 3, 2023, Manipur has been reeling under a deep turmoil and its air is still filled with the wails of men, women and children who have lost loved ones.

The election is ill-timed, he added.

Even though the time was not right for holding an election, polls were scheduled and held because the State Government considers the present law and order situation as normal, he said.

Before holding an election, the Election Commission of India, which oversees the poll affairs, seeks reports on the law and order situation from the State.

After a decision is taken to hold the election, the State Government first apprises the Governor, who then informs the ECI to set the schedule, O Joy said.

The Lok Sabha election was conducted because the State Government had sent reports citing the law and order situation was favourable and it had agreed to holding the elections.

The reports were sought by the State Chief Secretary from the Deputy Commissioners and heads of the police, he added.

To ensure free and fair elections, O Joy said, security forces are deployed for area security in all Assembly Constituencies, and Sector Magistrates are also appointed to monitor and control the polling stations, besides constituting flying squads.

However, a day before the election on April 19, when the Model Code of Conduct was effective, there were reports about gunmen threatening voters to stay away from polling stations.

Even after getting the reports, the Deputy Commissioners concerned, Superintendents of Police and security forces deployed in polling areas didn't intervene, he said, asking "what were the Intelligence Department doing at the time?" .

There were numerous reports of malpractices before and during the election hours, but the Election Commission, Chief Secretary, DGP and election authorities didn't intervene, he said.

Despite the declaration that strong security measures have been put in place to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner, unknown persons were allowed to enter the polling booths and cast proxy votes.

The election on April 19 was a disgrace and a black mark on democracy, he said.

"Voters were gagged and their rights were violated.

The rampant election malpractices have put Manipur to shame in front of other States of India and foreign countries.

The State Government must take full responsibility for this," said O Joy.


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