The Election Commission on Tuesday dismissed reports of alleged EVM manipulation in strongrooms in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, calling them “baseless and frivolous”.
There were reports of EVM manipulation from Ghazipur, Chandauli, Domariaganj, Jhansi and Mau in Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, in Bihar, the RJD shared pictures of voting machines allegedly being transported in a vehicle in Saran.
Debunking the reports in Uttar Pradesh as unnecessary, the Election Commission said the electronic voting machines were kept under proper security and protocol in the presence of candidates of political parties.
The EC further said in all the cases, the polled EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of party candidates and videographed. CCTV cameras have been installed and CAPF security is in place. Terming the allegations as baseless, the EC said candidates are allowed to have watch over the strongrooms at a time and one representative of each candidate watches over the strongroom throughout the day.
The Commission clarified in a statement saying that the reports of movement of EVMs are absolutely false. Visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVM used during the polls, it said.
The aspersions in clips being used in media merely pertain to the storage or movement of reserve unused EVMs, the poll body said.
It further said the provisions and protocols have been explained to the political parties on multiple occasions including in several of the 93 meetings held with them at the Commission since the announcement of elections.
However, the EC said that any case of lapse even in the handling of reserve EVMs will be thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken against the officers responsible.
Last night, Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Afzal Ansari sat on a protest outside the strongroom in Ghazipur — where EVMs are being kept — to prevent them from being transported out in a vehicle.
In a video of the incident, Ansari and his supporters late on Monday were seen engaged in a heated argument with a police officer.
“EVMs are being shifted out and probably replaced. None of the candidates were informed of the movement of EVMs. I am not going anywhere now because this is a clear attempt to resort to malpractices before counting,” he was quoted as saying by IANS.
He said that he and his supporters would take turns to keep vigil outside the strongroom because he had no faith in the district administration.
Afzal Ansari, the SP-BSP alliance candidate is pitted against union minister Manoj Sinha of BJP from Ghazipur.
In Mirzapur, Congress candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi has sent a letter to the poll observer questioning the presence of ‘additional EVMs’ in the strongroom.
He has asked the observer to ensure the removal of additional EVMs in the presence of all candidates before the counting day.
Tripathi is pitted against Union Minister Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal in Mirzapur.
Two weeks ago, a similar movement of EVMs was reported from Amethi and the district administration claimed that ‘unused’ EVMs were being sent to places where polling had not yet taken place.
In Mau, some people had gathered outside the EVM strong room believing social media rumours, police said adding that they were dispersed using light force.
Following reports of EVM transportation, Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav tweeted, “Visuals and claims of sudden movement of EVMs observed across the north India! Why is it so? Who is transporting these EVMs & Why? What is purpose and objective of this exercise? In order to avoid any confusion & misconception, Election Commission must issue a statement ASAP (sic.)”.
Meanwhile, amid reports of new EVMs being brought to the strong room in Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday appealed to the party workers to stay vigil near the strong rooms.
Polling in all the seven phases of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections ended on May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.