BJP misusing power, trying to influence postal ballots: Cong to Goa CEO

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A day after the Congress in Goa alleged that the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were “trying to poach their winnable candidates”, the party on Sunday wrote to the Goa Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) alleging that the ruling BJP government was misusing the state machinery to influence postal ballots.

While legislative assembly polls in Goa were held in a single phase on February 14, votes through the postal ballots are still being cast by various government servants, including those from the state police.

“After the voting date, the state government machinery and candidates of the ruling party have indulged in illegal acts of threatening and intimidating the voters who are supposed to cast their votes through postal ballots,” Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president, Girish Chodankar wrote in a letter to state CEO on Sunday.

Chodankar said that the matter needs to be probed by the CEO. “It is also brought to the notice of your good office that the candidates of the ruling party have been provided with the list of voters who are going to cast their votes through postal ballots (the government servant on election duty and police personnel on duty). It is rather strange that how such list has been provided to the ruling party candidate, when none of the opposition parties have been given any such list,” Chodankar said in his letter.

On February 15, the Congress’s general secretary, Sunil Kawthankar, had filed a complaint about alleged intimidation of government employees to cast their votes through postal ballots in favour of the BJP , while, on February 16, the party candidate from the Mormugao seat, Sankalp Amonkar had filed a similar complaint to the returning officer in the assembly constituency.

Officials from the CEO’s office said that last week a direction had been given to both the Collectors (District Election Officers) of North and South Goa to inquire into the allegations made by the Congress party.

On Saturday, after Chodankar alleged that the BJP was trying to poach Congress candidates who were likely to win their seats, BJP president Sadanand Tanavade had said that the allegations were baseless and they showed the Congress’s “frustration” since the BJP was sure of winning the assembly polls with a full majority.

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