The Election Commission on Tuesday ordered repolling in 32 polling stations falling in Majitha, Muktsar and Sangrur assembly segments and 16 in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency following snag in voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines on February 4.
“Repolling will take place at 48 polling stations — 12 in Majitha, nine each in Muktsar and Sangrur, one each in Sardulgarh and Moga and 16 in Amritsar — on February 9 because of the malfunctioning in VVPAT on the polling day,” said Punjab chief electoral officer VK Singh.
EC had used VVPAT machines for the first time in Punjab at 6,668 polling stations in 33 assembly segments and two segments in the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. During the trial, 538 VVPATs were replaced while during polling 187 VVPATs were changed. Polling was affected at 25 polling stations in Majitha and 10 each in Sangrur and Muktsar.
The Election Commission of India had even sought a report from the state election authorities about the malfunctioning of VVPATs, which caused delay in voting. At some polling stations, voting had to be stopped for one to two hours.
“The polling percentage in all these stations is not less than overall average, rather in some of them, it is more but the EC doesn’t want to take any chances as political parties and candidates can allege foul play after results are declared,” said an additional chief electoral-rank official in Punjab.
The repolling would take place under tight security for which a few companies of paramilitary forces would be commissioned again.
In the Majitha assembly constituency, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Bikram Singh Majithia and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are the key contenders. In Moga, Brijinder Singh Makhan Brar, son of agriculture minister Tota Singh, is the Akali candidate. From Muktsar, Congress’ Karan Kaur Brar is contesting and from Sangrur, former MP Vijay Inder Singla is the Congress nominee. BJP’s Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina and Congress’ Gurjit Singh Aujla are contesting from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.
Over 7,500 electors will cast their vote again in Muktsar, which recorded 78% turnout on February 4. Deputy commissioner Sumit Jarangal said guidelines have been issued and election code of conduct has been re-enforced. Holiday has been declared for voters of polling stations where the repoll will be held.
Meanwhile, Akali Dal candidate from Majitha Bikram Singh Majithia said: “The EC decision came as a surprise for us. I don’t see any rationale behind the re-poll.” Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Sangrur Dinesh Bansal has also opposed repolling.
(With PTI inputs)