Last few days have seen several viral videos of vehicles carrying EVMs turning up outside strongrooms in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. As reported by Janta Ka Reporter, in one such incident, a huge controversy had erupted after EVMs were seen to be offloaded from a van in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar’s Saran and Maharajganj, the RJD had alleged that its supporters had stopped the entry of a van full of EVMs from entering a strongroom. Similar reports had emerged from Fatehabad in Haryana and Chandauli in Uttar Pradesh.
An embarrassed Election Commission had swung into action as several local level officers released their video statements. District Election Officer of Jhansi had admitted that EVMs being shown in the viral video were unused and the controversy had erupted because the polling party carrying them had arrived at the strongroom late.
3/n DEO Jhansi while responding to queries on mishandling of EVMs stated that strong rooms were sealed in morning by 7-7:30 am inpresence of Observers once all polling parties came back with EVMs. All extant ECI guidelines followed@PIB_India @DDNewsLive @airnewsalerts @ECISVEEP pic.twitter.com/v72gdQdbhz
— Sheyphali Sharan (@SpokespersonECI) May 21, 2019
Former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi on Tuesday took to Twitter to show the rule book stating that both unused and polled EVMs must return to strongrooms the same time under the protection of armed men in uniform. It said, “According to the Election Commission guidelines for storage and transportation of EVMs (polled and unpolled), “all polled and reserve EVMs, after the voting, shall be under the cover of armed police at all times. Reserve EVM should also be returned at the same time when the polled EVMs are returned at the receipt center.” The guidelines also say that “it must be ensured that all reserve EVMs are also deposited in the strong room meant for reserve EVMs at the same time when the polled EVMs are deposited in the strong room meant for polled EVMs”.”
EC guidelines on return of EVMs – both polled and unused reserved. pic.twitter.com/PrXCLi3bML
— Dr. S.Y. Quraishi (@DrSYQuraishi) May 21, 2019
Dr Quraishi later told India Today TV channel that ‘unguarded machines found anywhere’ were simply not acceptable. Dr Quraishi suspected that there may have been lapses by presiding officers and the Election Commission should take stringent action against erring officers.
Earlier on Tuesday, leaders of at least 20 opposition parties approached the Election Commission demanding 100 percent VVPAT voter slips matching with that of the votes counted in EVMs in the entire assembly segment if there was even a single incident of discrepancy. Those submitting their demand to the Election Commission included Ghulam Nabi Azad,Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Raj Babbar(all from Congress), Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Prof Ram Gopal Yadav(SP), Sitaram Yechuri, TK Rangarajan (CPI-M), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Praful Patel, Majeed Memon (NCP), K Kanimozhi (DMK), Derek O’Brien (AITC), Satish Chandra Misra(BSP), Manoj Jha(RJD), S. Sudhakar Reddy, D Raja (CPI), Javed Razawa(LJD); Shri KG Kenye (NPF), Kupendra Reddy (JD-S), Dr G. Srinivas Reddy (RSP), Dr G Mallesh (JSMT), Devender Singh Rana (NC), Prof Bhim Singh (JKNPP), Shri Rajnish Kumar (HAM) and Ashok Jha from the CPI ML (Bihar).
The delegation of opposition parties is likely to meet the Election Commission officers again on Wednesday. The counting of votes will take place on Thursday, 23 May.