2021 assembly elections and curious case of ballot box disappearance

These were stored in three boxes and kept in the sub-treasury strong room.

Published: 17th January 2023 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2023 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

A ballot box, image used for representation. | AP

By Express News Service

MALAPPURAM: High drama unfolded in the sub-treasury on Monday when one of the three ballot boxes containing uncounted postal votes polled for the 2021 assembly elections from Perinthalmanna constituency was found missing from the strong room.

The loss was noticed when officials reached the Perinthalmanna sub-treaury to shift the ballot boxes to the custody of the High Court on its order in a case challenging the election of IUML’s Najeeb Kanthapuram. The missing ballot box was later traced to the office of the cooperative registrar in Malappuram.

During the 2021 elections in Perinthalmanna, 348 postal ballots were set aside without counting due to clerical errors in the ballots, including serial number changes. These were stored in three boxes and kept in the sub-treasury strong room.

After he lost the polls by a slender margin of 38 votes, LDF candidate K P Muhammed Mustafa approached the High Court requesting that the uncounted postal ballots should be counted. The High Court directed the officials to produce the ballot boxes, which were in the custody of the the Perinthalmanna sub collector. Mustafa’s plea will come before the High Court on Tuesday.

The loss and recovery of the ballot box ignited a verbal duel between Najeeb and Musthafa. Demanding a detailed police probe into the whole incident, Najeeb told reporters in Thiruvananthpuram that he suspected a major sabotage.

State’s Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kaul sought a report from  Malappuram district collector V R Prem Kumar on the incident.

Erring officials should be punished: LDF candidate

Najeeb said: “My opponent approached the High Court to get these votes counted. He is rich and capable of using his wealth to win the election. So, I have decided to lodge a complaint with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, asking him to initiate measures to conduct a detailed police investigation into the incident.”

Musthafa said the officials who handled the boxes irresponsibly should be punished.  “The High Court asked the officials concerned to store the postal votes safely. However, they failed to obey the order.

I am more concerned about  the possibility of manipulation in postal votes than my IUML opponent. A detailed investigation should be conducted into the incident,” Musthafa said.


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