Election Commission asks Gujarat Chief Election Officer to investigate ‘coercion’ of AAP’s Surat East candidate

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Election Commission of India. File

Election Commission of India. File
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday said it had received the party’s representation, a four-member Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) delegation led by Manish Sisodia, on the alleged coercion and abduction of its candidate from Surat East to withdraw his candidature.

The representation, an ECI spokesperson said, had been sent to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Gujarat for inquiry and action “as warranted” even as they termed the AAP’s protest outside the commission’s office “unfortunate” and an attempt to “deliberately create an incident.”

Following a press conference in which he accused the BJP of having abducted the AAP’s candidate for the constituency, Mr. Sisodia had alleged that the incident also raised questions about the ECI.

According to the ECI spokesperson, the AAP’s request for a meeting with the ECI was received at 12.09 p.m. without any details on the issue to be discussed.

“A group of AAP members/supporters, reportedly led by Mr. Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, Delhi, gathered at the ECI main gate from 12 Noon onwards and started raising slogans. This is unfortunate, as AAP, a registered and recognised political party unexpectedly chose to deliberately create an incident, when no protest was warranted,” the spokesperson said.

“The AAP’s request for a meeting was examined and given the ‘urgency’ mentioned, though no details had been provided, the time for a meeting was conveyed for 4.30 p.m. though an email at 1.09 p.m.,” the spokesperson also said.

Despite the meeting being fixed, the spokesperson said, sloganeering and blocking of the ECI’s main gate continued.

At 3.20 p.m., according to the commission, another email was sent by the ECI requesting details, and requesting that the protests cease. The ECI, the spokesperson said, was and had “always been most facilitating” to delegations of political parties whenever time for a meeting was sought, and more so during elections, which was also sustained during the COVID-19 via the online mode.

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