Counting for Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections was suspended on Thursday due to technical faults in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and following protests by students. The process has now been resumed.
DUSU election officer had confirmed that the counting for the polls to four DUSU posts, which was held on Wednesday, was suspended after four EVMs were found to be faulty. He further cited the students' protest over the issue at the counting centre as the reason behind poll panel's decision to suspend counting.
"We had proposed rectification of the faulty EVMs and resumption of the counting but the students were not ready for it. It was decided to suspend counting. A fresh date for the counting will be announced soon," an election officer for DUSU polls told PTI.
Earlier, the counting, which was supposed to begin at 8.30 am on Thursday, had started with a delay of around 80 minutes due to unexplained reasons.
The case of faulty EVMs
The first EVM glitch was spotted at around 11 am, following which the counting was halted for over 50 minutes. Polling officials said that the display of the EVM was not responding, hence, so they had to wait for a new display to be sent to the community centre in New Delhi's Kingsway Camp, where the counting was underway.
However, soon after the counting resumed, there were reports of four more EVMs developing a snag. One EVM which malfunctioned showed a strange error. The machine reportedly recorded 40 votes in favour of ballot number 10, which was vacant. Neither a candidate, nor the option NOTA (None of the above) was listed against that number.
Following this, the National Students' Union of India (NSUI) alleged that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students rigged the polling machine. NSUI supporters surrounded the counting centre and started raising slogans. They were held back by police barricades, thanks to the heavy presence of security forces at the venue.
Meanwhile, ABVP candidates want the counting to continue, a move which is being resisted by other student organisations. ABVP's vice-presidential candidate Shakti Singh said, "Only one EVM was faulty and it can be repaired. We want the counting to be resumed. Since we were leading on all the seats, the other parties are demanding fresh elections."
Following allegations of rigging, the Election Commission asked the candidates of all parties to sign an agreement for recounting of votes. However, the move has met with some resistance. While the ABVP has agreed to sign the agreement, NSUI has demanded that the faulty EVMs be repaired before they agree to a recount. At the time of filing this report, the impasse continued. However, the poll panel is expected to give the final word by evening.
AAP slams 'one nation, one poll on EVM malfunction; Congress alleges foul play
Soon after the controversy broke out, the Aam Aadmi Party, whose student wing the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) had allied with left-leaning students' outfit All India Students Association (AISA) in polls, held a press conference. Party leader Dilip K Pandey said the government wants to conduct simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls across the length and breadth of the country, but asked how it would undertake such a massive exercise if it cannot even conduct polls for a student's council. AAP MLA Alka Lamba also took to Twitter and said that malfunctioning EVMs always coincided with the BJP's defeat in any polls.
All India Congress Committee joint secretary, Ruchi Gupta alleged, "NSUI was winning the post of DUSU president and secretary after 6 rounds. Then 6 EVMs started malfunctioning and EC wanted to set those aside. How is it that machines which were working till yesterday during polling are no longer working during counting? Clearly some sabotage to help ABVP."
She claimed that similar circumstances arose in the past as well. "NSUI had submitted a memo to the Election Commission last year and this year on transparency and integrity of the polls. Last year too after announcing that NSUI won (ahead) on 3 seats, we magically lost JS (joint secretary's seat). In Baroda too, after winning both seats, we suddenly lost 1. What is victory without credibility?" Gupta asked.
In the early rounds of counting, reports said that NSUI's Sunny Chhillar was in the lead for the president's post and was trailed by ABVP's Ankiv Baisova. Shakti Singh of the ABVP was ahead in race for the post of vice president, while Aakash Chaudhary, of the NSUI, surged ahead of ABVP's Sudhir Dedha after his initial lead for the post of secretary. Jyoti Chaudhary of the ABVP was leading for the post of joint secretary, according to the last update that had come in before counting was suspended.
With inputs from Team 101 Reporters and DU Student Harsh Verma
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Updated Date: Sep 13, 2018 18:04:22 IST