Opposition political parties here have claimed that the BJP in Goa had forced the Indian Army jawans to cast votes in favour of the saffron party in the February 4 state polls. Leaders of the Congress and Goa Forward claimed that jawans from the 3 MTR camps located in Navelim in South Goa and the 6 TTR in Ponda voted in unprecedented numbers. They also said their party’s respective candidates were not allowed to canvas in the military cantonment areas.
“Over 700 army jawans were suddenly registered as voters from the three MTR military cantonment area. This kind of voter registration and voting is unprecedented… This is nothing but a surgical strike on fair election processes in the state,” Congress state president Luizinho Faleiro and the party’s candidate from Navelim told IANS on Saturday. “The reason for our doubt is that there was no verification about whether the army jawans were registered in their home states. They were just given voter cards,” Faleiro said, adding that a similar surge in voting was also noticed in Ponda constituency, where the 6 TTR regiment is based.
“I was not even allowed to campaign or meet the registered voters in the army cantonment area,” Faleiro said, adding that a complaint had been made to the Election Commission. Goa Forward, a regional political party, has also claimed that increased army voting in Navelim, should be probed by the EC. “How is it possible that over 600 army jawans are registered as voters on the last day of filing nominations? The booth level officers were not even allowed in the army cantonment areas to verify the identity of the voters,” Goa Forward spokesperson Prashant Naik told a press conference on Saturday.
The BJP has, however, dismissed the allegations as baseless and complaints from political parties who were unnecessarily trying to politicise the issue. “Congress tries to politicise every issue. They should not do it. Army personnel have voting rights and if they exercise their right, then no one should object,” state General Secretary Narendra Savoikar told IANS. “In fact, they should be proud that army personnel exercised their rights,” he added. Nearly 83 per cent voters cast their ballot in the February 4 elections in the state. Counting of votes in Goa, as well as other four poll-bound states would be held on March 11.