BJP removes Anil Masih from minority cell amid ballot tampering allegations

BJP Chandigarh unit removes Anil Masih from minority cell for allegedly tampering with ballot papers; BJP denies allegations.

Livemint
First Published14 Feb 2024
Anil Masih, the man in the thick of the rigging row after Chandigarh mayoral elections. (HT Photo)
Anil Masih, the man in the thick of the rigging row after Chandigarh mayoral elections. (HT Photo)

BJP Chandigarh unit has removed the name of Anil Masih from the party's minority cell. Masih is the presiding officer who has come under fire for allegedly tampering with the ballot papers, according to a report published by Indian Express. 

This came a few days after the Supreme Court declared that Masih, the designated council member, must appear before the top court on February 19 and it would not permit the destruction of democracy. The BJP unveiled the updated list of office-bearers late on Sunday night.

Masih has served as general secretary of the Chandigarh BJP's minority cell since 2021. Opposition councilors have alleged that presiding officer Anil Masih allegedly tampered with the ballot papers. Masih and the BJP denied this allegation.

"BJP wins elections through rigging. The latest example is from Chandigarh, where an officer acted dishonestly in front of camera and made the BJP win by cancelling the opposition's vote," said Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. 

Istekhar Ahmed has taken over as general secretary of the BJP's new minority cell, as per India Express reports. 

Masih was designated as a nominated councilor in the general house of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in 2022, representing the BJP's minority cell. 

After BJP mayoral candidate Manoj Sonkar emerged victorious on January 30, allegations surfaced against the presiding officer, Masih, claiming he had tampered with eight ballots, which were later ruled to be invalid.

Following this, the opposition parties moved to the High Court and then the Supreme Court of India. When the SC took up the matter, CJI DY Chandrachud stated that “murder of democracy can't be allowed”. 

The HC Registrar General was instructed to sequester the complete record of the mayoral elections by the SC. Furthermore, Masih was invited to appear before it on February 19.

The elections were supposed to take place on January 18, but Masih became ill, so the polls were moved to January 30. Two days before the January 18 elections, Gurinder Sodhi, the municipal secretary, had also taken a leave of absence, purportedly because of back discomfort.

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