Congress presidential poll candidate Shashi Tharoor’s team has written to the party’s chief election authority, flagging “extremely serious irregularities” in the conduct of the election in Uttar Pradesh and demanded that all votes from the state be deemed invalid. Tharoor’s campaign team has also raised “serious issues” in the conduct of the election in Punjab and Telangana.
In his letter to Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry, Tharoor’s chief election agent Salman Soz has said the facts are “damning” and the election process in Uttar Pradesh is “devoid of credibility and integrity”.
Salman Soz conveyed to Mistry that what has been witnessed in Uttar Pradesh is an open challenge to the authority of “your office” as well as contempt for the orders of the Congress president and the Congress Working Committee to hold free and fair elections.
Salman Soz said in his letter, according to sources, “We would like to underline that we have no evidence that Mallikarjun Kharge ji was aware of how his supporters were engaging in electoral malpractice in Uttar Pradesh. We are certain that if he was aware, he would never allow what happened in Uttar Pradesh”.
Soz said in the letter “He (Kharge) would not allow the tainting of an election that is so important for the Indian National Congress”.
The “irregularities” in Uttar Pradesh flagged by Tharoor’s team include use of unofficial seals for ballot boxes, presence of unofficial persons in polling booths, voting malpractice, no polling summary sheet, presence of AICC secretaries in-Charge of Uttar Pradesh.
The letter dated October 18 said, according to the sources, “We do not see how this election can be deemed free and fair if the tainted process of Uttar Pradesh is allowed to stand. We, therefore, demand that all votes from Uttar Pradesh be deemed invalid”.
Tharoor’s team said it suspects “voter fraud” in this election, alleging that there were delegates who were not present in the Lucknow area on the day of voting and their votes were cast. There were complaints from people about not being allowed to cast their votes since others had already cast their votes, the letter said.
“When our agents complained about voter malpractice, supporters of the other side would come inside the polling booth and create a ruckus and start threatening our polling agents,” Salman Soz said, according to sources.
In a separate letter to Mistry, Tharoor’s team also raised serious issues in the conduct of the election in Punjab and Telangana. Tharoor had repeatedly raised the issue of uneven playing field in the polls but maintained that Gandhis had assured him of neutrality.