Shashi Tharoor’s campaign team sent a letter on Tuesday that accused Uttar Pradesh of irregularities and malpractices in the election for Congress president. The letter was released on Wednesday, the day of the vote counting.
Salman Anees Soz, Tharoor’s chief election agent, was told by Madhusudan Mistry, head of the election authority, that all charges were unfounded and that he would respond “point-by-point” to the demands.
Soz claimed “severe irregularities” in the election in UP and demanded that votes from the state be declared invalid. According to Mistry, the contents of the letter do not have any basis, and the publication of the letter is inappropriate.
Tharoor expressed his regret in a tweet that a strictly internal letter to the CEA had been leaked to the media.
Later, the Lok Sabha MP from Kerala stated, “Soz did his duty by alerting the election authority to any violations reported to him.”
When asked about the party election authority’s response to these allegations, Mistry responded, “The fact that they have made it public does not mean that the reply has to be made public.” By party discipline, this is an internal election. Nevertheless, I assure you that a point-by-point response will be provided.”
During his letter, Soz stated, “The facts are damning, and there is no credibility or integrity in the election process in Uttar Pradesh.” In the first complaint, Tharoor’s camp attached photographs of what they described as unofficial tags used to seal the ballot boxes, stating that the absence of official seals in any of the six ballot boxes rendered the election in UP invalid.
According to Mistry, there were six ballot boxes in UP, and they did not have any problems with the seals on four of them. The seals of all six ballot boxes were checked today in the presence of the Tharoor team. The seal bearing the embossed numbers had not been present in two boxes…it is possible…There were so many tags…even if you give them all 400 votes in those two boxes, he will get 1,072 plus 400…from diye unko, Chalo [OK, I give it to them].”
Besides the polling agents, Soz also complained that “unofficial persons in the polling booths”; he pointed out that three persons sat inside the polling booths acting as presiding officers.
According to one of them, Mallikarjun Kharge is one of their proposers… You do not need to be told what they were doing in the polling booth. According to the letter, their purpose was not to promote our candidate’s candidacy.
Mistry says, “Give us a specific example, a specific incident…the complaint does not mention any specific incident.”
According to Soz, we suspect that there has been voter fraud in this election. Some delegates were not present in the Lucknow area on the day of voting, but their votes were cast. Many people complained that they were not permitted to vote since others had already voted.
It is stated in Soz’s letter that when our agents complained about voter malpractice, supporters of the other side would enter the polling booth and create a disturbance and start threatening our polling agents. “We have specific examples of voters who were not present in Lucknow on the day of the election, yet their ballots were recorded as having been cast. We are not disclosing those examples to you at this time to protect our sources and ensure that those responsible for such misconduct are not attempting to rectify the issues.”
The letter also stated that AICC secretaries from different states were present at the state Congress headquarters in Lucknow in violation of the election authority’s guidelines. The report says that Pradeep Narwal, Tauqueer Alam, and Dheeraj Gurjar were in different polling booths in Lucknow for no reason other than to influence voters.
Other senior leaders (AICC and PCC) were observed instructing voters to vote in a particular manner in and around polling booths. “The fact that AICC secretaries violate the spirit of your instructions… reveals the impunity with which some of our colleagues conduct their business,” the report stated.
The Tharoor team also raised “serious concerns” about the conduct of the elections in Punjab and Telangana in a separate letter to Mistry. According to them, delegate cards were distributed in Punjab unethically, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring was repeatedly present inside the polling booths, and “bogus ballots” were allowed to be cast.
A polling booth was not entered by an unauthorised individual, according to Mistry.
When asked whether he believes the election was fair, Tharoor used a cricketing analogy: “When you play a match on an uneven field and the ball bounces and turns awkwardly, you still have to bat, and I have been batting.” Our only concern was that there should not be any pitch or ball tampering. For the most part, we have no complaints in this regard.”
“I think it would be unfortunate to blame the conditions for the outcome,” he said. What has happened has happened. Clearly, our best effort was not sufficient to carry the day.”