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Asia India

Bihar villagers elect dead man to fulfil his last wish

Probe ordered after family members did not inform polls officials about candidate’s death



Picture for illustrative purposes
Image Credit: Stock image

Patna: Authorities have announced action against the family members of a dead man who won the village council polls riding on a sympathy wave generated by his death.

The candidate died in the middle of the poll process but his family members didn’t inform the election officials, as it was the last wish of the deceased to win the elections.

Sohan Murmu, a resident of Khaira block in Jamui district, filed his nomination for the post of a village kutchery panch, a council member entrusted with the task of disposing petty disputes. He was in the poll fray against lone rival Mura Hembram.

Soon after filing his nomination, Murmu began campaigning. In the middle of the poll process, however, he died, but his family members didn’t inform the poll officials about his death. Rather, they continued seeking votes for the dead candidate and ultimately he was declared a winner after the counting. He won by a margin of 22 votes in the closely-contested elections.

The story came to light after the candidate didn’t turn up to collect his victory certificate from the returning officer after the counting of votes. “We have ordered an inquiry into the matter and based on the direction given by the state election commission, further action will be taken,” block returning officer Raghvendra Tripathi told the media on Wednesday.

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The family members of the dead candidate told the official that it was his last wish to win the elections. “So they kept quiet. No resident of the village informed us either. It appears that they all voted in his favour to honour his last wish,” the official said.

The other candidate in the fray too didn’t inform the election officials, thinking that the villagers would not elect a dead man. During initial inquiry, it was found that Murmu had died on November 6, about 18 days before the polls.

The 11-phased village council polls are currently underway in Bihar to elect 255,000 council representatives for various posts. They include 8,072 village council chiefs, 113,307 council members, 11,104 village council committee members, 1,160 district council members, 8,072 sarpanch or village court judges who have limited judicial powers and 113,307 gram kutchery panchs (officials to assist the sarpanch). The elections which began in September will conclude on December 12.