Vote counting: ECI denies Ramesh time to back claims of DMs being influenced

Congress MP and general-secretary had claimed that attempts were made to influence 150 district magistrates and collectors ahead of 4 June

Congress general-secretary Jairam Ramesh (file photo)
Congress general-secretary Jairam Ramesh (file photo)

NH Digital

The Election Commission of India on Monday refused to grant additional time to Congress MP and general-secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh to back his claims that attempts were made to influence 150 district magistrates and collectors ahead of the 4 June vote counting for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Ramesh was asked by the poll panel to submit factual details by Sunday evening regarding the allegations that he made in a social media post recently.

Ramesh wrote to the ECI on Monday seeking a week's time to submit his reply. In a letter to Ramesh, the ECI said, "The Commission hereby outrightly rejects your request for time extension and directs you to file your response along with the factual matrix/ basis of your allegation by 7 PM today -- June 3, failing which it would be presumed that you have nothing substantive to say in the matter and the Commission would proceed ahead to take appropriate action".

The ECI said Ramesh's allegation that attempts have been made to influence the district magistrates of around 150 parliamentary constituencies, who are also the returning officers and district election officers, has serious connotations and a direct bearing on the sanctity of the counting process scheduled for Tuesday.

The ECI said no DM has reported any such undue influence as alleged by Ramesh.

On Saturday, Ramesh had alleged that Union home minister Amit Shah had been calling district magistrates and collectors and indulging in "blatant and brazen" intimidation. The allegation assumed significance since DMs and collectors are the returning officers of their respective districts during elections.

On 21 May, senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan had written in an X post: "All returning officers (who are usually local District Magistrates) who may have been instructed to declare an incorrect result during counting must remember that tampering with election results is a serious offence for which they will lose their jobs & be prosecuted."

In yet another X post, author and freelance journalist Raju Parulekar on Monday tweeted in support of Ramesh and wrote, "⁠Now, when Shri. Jairam Ramesh writes back seeking a week’s time to submit detailed reply, it writes back, again without quoting any authority, stating it cannot extend time. It doesn’t justify, why time cannot be granted for an issue it deems serious enough to indulge in correspondence on the eve of counting and posting it on SM too."

With inputs from PTI

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