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Lok Sabha Election 2019 Phase 5: Largely peaceful polling marred by EVM malfunctions, poll rigging in several states

Bengaluru: The fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections saw 51 constituencies going to polls across seven states in the country. A largely peaceful election phase was marred by instances of EVM malfunctions and poll rigging in several states.

Faulty EVMs kept voters waiting in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan during the early hours of the voting day.

Missing names in the voters' list enraged many at booth number 59 in Kachnapur, part of Gonda Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh. The people attacked the booth level officer Vinay Shankar Tiwari as a result of this. Police arrived immediately at the scene to defuse the situation.

Tech glitches derail polling process

Across the 139 polling booths in Madhya Pradesh, 55 ballot units, 56 control units and 130 VVPATs were found to be faulty and changed during the fifth phase on Monday, as per data released by the Chief Election Officer’s (CEO) office. EVMs in Bandhi Kala village in Tikamgarh Parliamentary constituency faced technical glitches and polling process was affected for around two hours. Poll officer PK Jain was informed about the glitch and the machine was replaced.

Voting could not begin even half an hour after the scheduled time at booth 91 as well as in Timarni Vidhan Sabha 134 of Harda district, owing to technical malfunction of the EVM, while voting was halted at booth 63 in Tamari, Harda, as the EVM was facing technical issues.

 Lok Sabha Election 2019 Phase 5: Largely peaceful polling marred by EVM malfunctions, poll rigging in several states

Voters in Madhya Pradesh's Baitul constituency await repair of a VVPAT machine. Image courtesy: 101Reporters

The voters waited in queues to cast their vote following a malfunction in the EVM at Maridiyo voting centre 24 of Prathmik Shala School in Damoh. Voting was delayed by an hour in Ram Nagar of Satna due to faulty ATMs at polling booth numbers 190,191 and 193.

EVM glitches were reported from Satna, Chitrakoot and Amarpatan, causing a delay in voting. Widespread EVM failure was reported in Satna region during Assembly elections held last year as well. Polling booth number 115 in Civil Lines and 245 in Sindhi Camp in Satna, and 255 Pachli Kala in Chitrakoot were the places where EVM snags were reported in large numbers.

EVM malfunction resulted in a delay of more than an hour at polling booths 40, 297 and 298, part of Sitamarhi constituency in Bihar. In Hajipur Lok Sabha constituency, a technical snag was reported at two booths. Four booths in Muzaffarpur — 4, 21, 88 and 89 — also reported EVM snags.

West Bengal also witnessed faulty EVMs in booth numbers 212, 213, 163 and 288 of Hooghly constituency. Voting did not begin till 9 am at booth number 304 in Salkia under the Howrah constituency, due to issues with the EVM.

Crucial polling hours lost in UP

Uttar Pradesh saw problems with the EVM even before voting began as the EVM at booth number 258 City Montessori School in Lucknow malfunctioned during the mock drill. Voting could not begin on time at booth number 223 Laxmi Nagar polling station, part of Sitapur Lok Sabha seat due to technical snags in the EVMs while the VVPAT machines faced issues at booth numbers 145 and 304. Start of voting was delayed at booth numbers 161, 162 and 164 in Lucknow due to EVM malfunction.

Technical problems in the EVM resulted in a delay of start in voting at booth number 96 in Amethi. Booth number 196 of Amardeeh Jamo was affected due to EVM malfunction. Sources say that the machine was not reflecting the accurate date and day. People and police personnel clashed at booth number 152 in Amethi’s Jamo GGIC college as the EVM machine refused to function.

At Musafirkhana region of Amethi, booth 28 of Dadra Gram Sabha too experienced difficulties as EVM experienced technical snags. Voting could not begin as a result of the fiasco. Voting at booth number 380 Prathmik Vidyalaya Ramganj in Amethi was delayed as the EVMs faced some difficulties. Voting was stopped at booth numbers 231, 232 and 233 of Unchahar, part of Rae Bareily seat. Voting began late at booth numbers 144 and 145 in Bachhrawan Assembly segment of Rae Bareli constituency due to EVM malfunction.

After voting at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Dinesh Singh, BJP candidate from Rae Bareli, said, “EVM malfunctions were reported from many places, but I have talked to the officials and they have assured that they would be replacing those EVMs soon." Voting was also halted in Kripalpur Vindha village. Ram Bisoi, a resident of the village said, “The EVMs have not been working for more than one and a half hour (at 10.45 am). Around 250-300 voters have gone home without voting."

Voting was halted at booth number 272 in 2nd Battalion Cantonment and booth number 76 in Choubeytola in Sitapur due to EVM malfunction. EVM malfunction was reported at booth number 134 and 343 in Mahamudabad, part of Dhaurhara Lok Sabha seat.

Barabanki also witnessed EVM malfunction at booth number 283. The presiding officer at booth number 283 of Barabanki said, “The EVMs which were not working from the last two hours have been changed and now the EVMs are working fine.”

Several incidents of faulty EVMs and VVPATs were reported early in the morning in various parts of Rajasthan. The reports of faulty EVMs were majorly witnessed in Alwar and Karauli Lok Sabha constituencies. While some voters excitedly waited in queues, others became anxious and demanded a change in the machines immediately.

VVPAT machines at booth numbers 29, 68, 71, 84, 02, and 130 of Behror Assembly segment in Alwar were reported to be faulty and were changed immediately. Engineers were called at the polling booths to fix the issue.

“The control units and ballot units replacement is less than the VVPATs. In exact numbers, seven BUs, 11 CUs, and 30 VVPATs out of the 2,697 machines have been replaced. The replacement rate has been low. Once the mock poll is done, the process of small replacements here and there continues throughout the day. I have conducted elections 3-4 times earlier as well, and from my experience, the machines are getting stabilised now. The replacement rate is going down every election,” said Indrajeet Singh, collector and district magistrate, Alwar.

While central minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore stood in line for several minutes at Jaipur's Vaishali Nagar-based polling booth due to a faulty EVM, voting did not start till 8 am at booth 51 and 52 of Rajgarh-Lakshmangarh Assembly area due to faulty EVMs. In addition to this, 11 control units, four ballots, and 16 VVPAT machines were changed in Churu and Sardarshahar due to technical issues by 8.30am. Control unit was changed in booth numbers 91 and 77 in Churu.

Meanwhile, both BJP and Congress had separate units set up to receive and report complaints of faulty EVMs across the state.

While BJP had launched a toll-free number which reported to have about 150 complaints of faulty EVMs till 5.30 pm, Congress had a war-room which filed about 500 complaints of faulty EVMs to the Election Commission.

“As soon as the polling began, the complaints of EVMs not working started flowing in. We received about 70-80 complaints in the morning. The other complaints that we received were of delayed polling due to slow processing of the machine. This resulted in long queues at the polling booths,” said Nirmal Nahata, a BJP control-room officer. “The figure of number of complaints has reached to around 500 faulty EVMs. We are filing the complaints to local EC office as soon as we receive it. It began early in the morning which still continues. The complaints are more from the areas where special communities like SC/STs and Muslims reside,” said Arun Sharma, spokesperson, Congress.

Poll rigging continues to be a menace

In what was the highlight of the day, a polling official at booth number 103 east Visara, part of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, forced voters to vote for BJP while the voters wanted to vote for Congress. Dinesh Kumar, assistant polling officer, was found guilty of violating rules and was immediately removed once he was found guilty. Brijesh Tiwari, a witness, said that when the voters asked him how to cast the vote, he went and voted for BJP. The villagers had restrained him and left him only when the sector magistrate arrived.

In West Bengal, a TMC youth leader, Maharaja Nag, was seen pressing EVM button for voters at booth number 110 in Naskarpur village of Tarakeswar Talpur area of Hooghly district.

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Updated Date: May 06, 2019 22:18:06 IST