Agartala, January 09, 2023: Tripura CPIM Secretary Jitendra Chaudhury on Monday asked the Chief Electoral Officer Kiran Gitte to discard the idea of formation of Booth Awareness Group (BAG) as because Booth Level Officers (BLOs) and Booth Level Agents (BLAs) are quite sufficient for 3,328 booths across the state.
“If the BAGs are formed then it will be nothing but a booth committee sponsored by the ruling party having the seal of the Election Commission”, wrote Chaudhury in a two-page letter addressing the CEO Gitte on Monday.
Forwarding a memo issued by ERO, Sadar of West Tripura district regarding formation of BAG for each part of the electoral roll in Sadar sub-division, he mentioned “The idea of formation of BAG is quite new and an important matter in ongoing election in Tripura, I am sorry to say, never this was discussed in any all party meeting held so far. However, we are placing our strong objection to the formation of such a BAG.”
Citing some valid grounds, Tripura CPIM Secretary said “There is already an awareness group working in each of the polling booths comprising concerned BLO and BLAs of political parties. Then why does it need to be widened with the members of various social groups?”
“The BLOs are directed to select names from various social groups namely, youths, social workers, educationist, NSS activists and NGOs etc. to include in the BAG. Our experience is that, most of the BLOs are working under duress due to constant threats from the ruling party activists to get illegal and unethical tasks done by them. Besides, some BLOs are very much obliged to the ruling party leaders. In such a condition, can you expect, the BLOs will pick up the persons from social groups with integrity and neutrality in each of the polling booths? We believe, practically, it will be nothing but a booth committee sponsored by the ruling party having the seal of the Election Commission.”
“What is the objective of formation of such BAG, what kinds of tasks will the BAG perform, the jurisdiction of their task etc nothing has been defined. Lastly, While the electors of the state are sharply polarized among the 2/3 political platforms, it is impractical to pick up so many apolitical individuals to form BAG in each of the 3328 polling booths”, he added.
In context to ‘awareness’ of electors Chaudhury said that the body comprising BLOs and BLAs in a booth are sufficient and widening this body with the representatives of various social groups would only create controversy. Hence, he requested the CEO to discard this idea of formation of BAG in each booth.