Congress alleges election fraud in Pathanamthitta co-op bank as SFI leader casts vote five times

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Pathanamthitta: Allegations of Left Democratic Front (LDF) indulging in widespread bogus voting in the recent election held in Pathanamthitta Co-operative Bank, have gone rife, with rival Congress accusing the CPM of bringing in bogus voters from outside.

CCTV footage revealed that SFI district K S Amal engaged in bogus voting in the bank’s election. In the visuals, Amal was seen casting his vote and returning to the queue for his next turn. Likewise, he polled five votes, say reports.

The institution’s by-law stipulates that only those who reside within the 22 wards of Pathanamthitta Municipality and are enrolled as members in the bank possess the right to cast their votes in the election to its director board.

The Congress accuses the CPM of mobilizing bogus voters from outside the limits of the municipality to cast extra votes and that too on multiple occasions. District Congress Committee President Satheesh Kochuparambil said legal action would be initiated against the attempts by the CPM to capture cooperative banks through electoral fraud. He alleged that the local police provided protection to the bogus voters from outside.

Lending credence to the Congress’ allegations, footage of a few other CPM leaders including the party’s Peringanad Local secretary Akhil Peringanad, SFI Kodumon Area president Kiran, and DYFI Mallappally block committee members Joyesh Pothen casting their votes are circulating within the Congress cyber groups.

The Congress alleged that the CPM captured power in a similar fashion in a handful of other co-operative institutions such as the Thiruvalla East Service Co-operative Bank, Adoor Erathu Service Co-operative Bank, and Adoor Urban Service Co-operative Bank, where elections were held in the past six months.

Taking note of the possibility, the Congress initiated steps well in advance to ensure that its panel votes, including those by women voters, are polled at 10 in the morning itself, and also to challenge bogus voting in this election. This ensured the party’s victory in the bank, said Akhil Azhoor, Pathanamthitta Youth Congress Vice President.

The Pathanamthitta Co-operative Bank, which has been under the UDF’s rule for 25 years on a trot, enrolled 932 members in the past five years alone. While in the previous election, the candidates in the LDF panel received an average of 900 votes, it rose to 1500-1600 this time.

The LDF leadership, meanwhile, responded that no incidents of bogus voting had come to their notice.

The election, held on Sunday, had witnessed some tense moments with the UDF and LDF workers locking horns over allegations of bogus voting on multiple occasions. Despite the confrontations, the UDF managed to retain its hold over the bank by winning 10 out of the 11 seats here.

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