KASARAGOD: The Congress-led UDF on Wednesday demanded the election be stopped in Pilicode panchayat in Trikaripur constituency after a UDF booth agent was allegedly assaulted by CPM workers.
The CPM has denied the charge.
UDF candidate M P Joseph, a former UN diplomat, said his booth agent James Maroor, who is also the district secretary of Kerala Congress, was assaulted at booth no. 127 at Government Model School at Vellachal in Pilicode panchayat -- a bastion of the CPM.
In a video released on social media, Joseph said Maroor was assaulted by four persons and his phone snatched away. "The presiding officer did not intervene and the micro observer defended the assaulters," he said. Speaking from a wheelchair in a private hospital, Maroor said the CPM workers asked him to leave the booth as they "do not allow anyone else to be in the booth".
"When I told them to maintain the democratic decorum, they said there was only their decorum and no democracy," Maroor said, further adding that someone hit his head from the back.
"I told the presiding officer to protect me. He did not move his finger. There were two police officers -- one with a gun -- outside the booth. They did not even get up from their seats. Then the assaulters took me outside and assaulted me," he said.
Joseph said the polling should be stopped and held on another day with full police protection and with Maroor as the UDF agent. "I have informed the observer," he said.
The LDF candidate and CPM leader M Rajagopalan said that he was not aware of the alleged incident as he was available at other location.
When contacted, panchayat member of Vellachal and CPM leader C V Radhakrishnan said no such incident happened. "I am at the model school and no such incident happened here. The polling is going on smoothly," he said. The UDF candidate came to the booth and left, he added.
When asked if there was a UDF agent in the booth, he said: "There is nobody here."
In Pilicode and neighbouring Kayyur-Cheemeni, all the panchayat wards are won by the CPM-led LDF. In 2020, the Congress won one ward in Pilicode panchayat because of "some local issues in the CPM", said a CPM worker.
During the campaigning, Joseph had flagged 73 booths in the constituency, calling for video surveillance and extra security.