All Party Conclave Criticise Election Commission On Conduct Of Election

Addressing certain “grave” issues concerned with the manner in which the general elections for the legislative assembly was conducted, an all party meeting was called on Wednesday February 23, headed by Girish Chodankar from the Congress. Representatives present at the briefing jointly cleared their stand on the issues being raised, which concern the “credibility and sanctity” of the voting rights of citizens.

Reading the minutes of the meeting, Girish Chodankar stated that they weren’t against the postal ballots but criticised the Election Commission’s (ECI) decision to allow voting lines for the postal ballots be open for over 35 days. Adding that malicious parties would intimidate the service voters into voting for them. They also questioned the secrecy of the vote with respect to the postal ballots, as the presence of having serial numbers for the vote would compromise the identity of the voter. Speaking for the members present, Chodankar demanded that a re-voting be conducted on one day through the Electronic Voting Machines for all those voting via postal ballot.

Another key issue that dominated the meeting was of the enrolment of army voters in certain constituencies. Durgadas Kamat, representing the Goa Forward Party (GFP) stated that the addition of army voters on the electoral roll was surprising. He said, “between the 6th January to 18th January, the constituency of Navelim had 642 voters added to the electoral roll, all of which were army voters.” Alleging foul play from the centre he stated that, “some supernatural power, probably from the union cabinet is behind this.”

A total of 700 to 800 Army voters were added to the electoral roll in constituencies of St. Andre, Ponda and Navelim. Navelim had the highest number of army voters added.

Besides this the conclave demanded to know the exact expenditure that was borne to conduct this election and whether it is all accounted for.

Representative of the Goa Suraj Party, also informed that a writ petition had been filed to the High Court on Wednesday itself, asking them to revise the electoral roll of Navelim constituency according to the law and to the other constituencies which had the army voters added.

Except the AAP and BJP, representatives of all major parties of Goa attended the conclave.