AGARTALA: The BJP on Friday demanded the removal of Tripura Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sriram Taranikanti and accused him of being a "conspirator", a party official said here.
State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee said that a six-member delegation led by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met Election Commission (EC) officials in Delhi and demanded that Taranikanti be replaced by another senior officer.
Bhattacharjee said that the CEO, during the Lok Sabha election to the Tripura West parliamentary seat on April 11, had directed election officials to "escort voters to the polling booths and their safe return at the behest of the CPI-M".
"Not only the CEO, a section of officials in the state's Election Department and in the districts acted in league with the CPI-M and the Congress. The CPI-M-led Left Front was in power in Tripura for 25 years consecutively. Hence, a large portion of the administrative machinery is still under their control," Bhattacharjee told the media.
Reacting to the development, BJP leader and Law and Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath told the media: "The CEO is one of the conspirators against the BJP. He helped the CPI-M and the Congress in the just concluded elections to the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Tripura.
"The Election Commission must remove the CEO immediately in the interest of democracy and the people of the state."
Meanwhile, the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Congress, have strongly condemned the BJP for making "unfounded charges" against the CEO.
"When the BJP came to power defeating the Left parties in last year's Assembly polls, Sriram Taranikanti was the CEO that time too. He (Taranikanti) was a 'hero' for BJP and now he is a 'villain'," CPI-M Tripura state secretary Gautam Das told the media.
"The CEO never asks people to cast votes in favour of a particular political party. During the Lok Sabha elections he played his constitutional role."
Das said that the BJP's "gameplan to rig the elections in the entire Tripura West Lok Sabha seat was now exposed".
"We had on February 21, lodged a complaint against the Returning Officer to Tripura West seat Sandeep Mahatme. Removal of Mahatme and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Rajiv Singh from election related duties by the EC, vindicated our allegations," he added.
Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice-President Tapas Dey said that the BJP's demand was "unprecedented and unbelievable".
"It was Sriram Taranikanti, who led the state Assembly election just a year ago when the BJP had won defeating the Left parties in one of their strongholds," Dey told reporters.