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Congress blames bypoll loss in Gangoh on U.P. govt. pressure

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Candidate alleges cheating by district administration

After maintaining a slim lead through the day over the BJP candidate Kirat Singh, Nooman Masood of the Congress was in for a rude shock when he was declared second best at the end of the counting in Gangoh bypoll in Saharanpur.

Mr. Masood alleged that he was cheated by the district administration under pressure from the ruling party.

“In the afternoon, suddenly, all the candidates and the mediapersons were removed from the counting centre and the agents were put under police cover under the orders of the district magistrate. When I was removed I was leading by about 8000 votes; when I returned I was told I was trailing,” he said.

In the end, Mr. Masood lost by a margin of 5,419 votes.

Mr. Masood, brother of senior Congress party leader Imran Masood, said if the administration had to engineer a BJP victory, what was the point of holding elections.

Alok Kumar Pandey, District Magistrate of Sharanpur, said that the allegations were baseless.

CCTV footage

“There is CCTV footage of the entire process. The EVMs are tamper-proof and the result has been signed by the observers of the Election Commission and agents of all the parties.” Mr Pandey said nobody was forcibly removed.

“We only told Mr. Masood there are guidelines about how many people of the political party could remain in the counting area at a given time. He quietly moved out and then created a ruckus,” the DM said.

He also denied the presence of any BJP minister on the premises, a claim made by the supporters of Mr Masood.

Later, senior Congress leaders decided to take up the issue with the Election Commission.

Locals say it was always going to be a close call. “Masood was relying on the Samajwadi Party’s Indersain’s ability to cut Gujjar votes but Indersain managed to cut into his Muslim vote bank as well,” said Faizy Usmani.

Mr Indersain secured 57374 votes against Masood’s 62881.

Mr. Usmani said the result must be surprising for the BSP as well as it used to have a strong presence in the area. Mohd Irshad of the BSP got 32276 votes. “Perhaps, Muslims didn’t like the party stand on Article 370 and silence on the criminalisation of Triple Talaq,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 7:43:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-blames-bypoll-loss-in-gangoh-on-up-govt-pressure/article29791102.ece

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