Three days after people in Madhya Pradesh cast their ballots, Opposition parties in the state raised vociferous protests over alleged manipulation of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), claiming it was part of a "major conspiracy".
On Friday, an EVM strong room in Bhopal was without electricity for about one and a half hours, due to which the live status of the machines was disrupted, News18 reported. Moreover, CCTV cameras were said to have been switched off a day earlier, and an official was quoted as saying that "safety norms" state there should be no power connection in the room where EVMs are stored.
A few Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers protested outside the strong room in Satna after a viral video showed an unknown person carrying a carton inside the highly protected area. The workers claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government was trying to tamper with the EVMs. As part of the protest, they even deflated the tyres of the vehicles of the district administration.
BSP's Pushkar Singh and Congress' Siddharth Kushwaha held a protest demanding action against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh government.
The Opposition also questioned why EVMs in Sagar had reached the collection centre 48 hours after the polling closed. The Congress alleged that the machines were taken to a hotel owned by Home Minister Bhupendra Singh, NDTV reported.
The party also alleged that the EVMs were deposited in a bus without a registration plate. Ahmed Patel also urged the Election Commission to take "concrete action" on the issue.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia lashed out at the BJP over the allegations, saying that they hint at a "conspiracy".
"The BJP is staring at the possibility of defeat and has thus resorted to trampling democracy and the verdict of the people. Under this government, an attempt to murder democracy is underway. The Election Commission must take prompt and stringent steps, take action against the guilty and ensure security of the EVMs," he said.
भाजपा अपनी संभवित हार को देखते हुए लोकतंत्र और जनता के मत को कुचलने पर आमादा हो गयी है। ये सरकार के संरक्षण में लोकतंत्र की हत्या का प्रयास है, चुनाव आयोग शीघ्र सख्त कदम उठाकर दोषियों पर कड़ी कार्यवाही कर मतगणना तक ईवीएम की कड़ी सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित करे।
— Jyotiraditya Scindia (@JM_Scindia) December 1, 2018
However, the district administration has denied all the charges and said the EVMs were under the supervision of security personnel. On the controversy in Sagar, the Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh said the machines in question were not used for voting but were among the ones that were kept on standby.
Chief Electoral Office has tried to clarify the genuine concerns related to EVM’s on this platform. This office assures the voters of Madhya Pradesh that all EVM’s are safe, secure, sealed. We may not be able to give individual reply but we will try tokeep up the trust of people — CEOMPElections (@CEOMPElections) December 1, 2018
A Congress delegation met the Election Commission on Saturday and raised concerns over the security of EVMs inside strong rooms, their handling during the counting process in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, as well as the alleged deletion of names from voter lists in Uttar Pradesh.
Ahmed Patel made a number of suggestions to the poll panel, including allowing representatives of political parties while transporting EVMs to counting centres from strong rooms, and cross-checking if postal ballots were received from eligible voters.
On the day of voting, as well, faulty EVMs had sparked protests from the Opposition in Madhya Pradesh. As many as 745 EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines had been replaced in the state. after which Scindia had written to the poll panel. "The incomplete arrangements of the commission jeopardised the democratic right to vote of thousands of voters, owing to the delay in start of polling in the respective booths," read his letter.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 01, 2018 20:40:29 IST