Congress leaders on Tuesday reached the UT Guest House to protest against state election commissioner SK Srivastava for alleged tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) elections that concluded on Monday. The party managed to win just four of 26 seats in the results announced on Tuesday.
Fourteen of the party’s losing candidates ‘gheraoed’ Srivastava, who was at the venue to address a press conference. They said re-polling in any of the wards will prove the veracity of their claims.
Congress leader Subhash Chawla, who lost from ward 16, questioned how Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates could know their victory margin in advance. His party colleague Kamlesh Kumari, who lost from ward 23, alleged: “By 9am (the time when counting started), the BJP had (arranged) sweets and prepared their jeeps.”
Rajesh Sharma, who lost to mayor Arun Sood in ward 8, and ward 1 contender HS Lucky, too, expressed their “doubts”.
When Srivastava asked the Congress leaders why they did not complain after the 2011 elections, in which they won 11 seats, they lost their cool and called him a “BJP agent”.
A heavy police force had to be called in, as a number of junior officials met Congress leaders to pacify them.
Finally, the protesters submitted a complaint, stating: “We respect the mandate of the people, but the possibility of tampering of EVMs as apprehended should be investigated for upholding the democracy and in the interest of justice.”
The complaint also mentioned: “BJP candidates were quoting the same figures of vote margin hours before the counting,” while alleging TV channels were airing the results of certain candidates, including Subhash Chawla and Arun Sood, hours before the counting.
Alleging the residents were shocked by the results, the Congress called for re-polling through ballot papers.
Later, Chawla told Congressmen that Srivastava had assured them of sealing of EVMs and that they would be complaining to the deputy commissioner on Wednesday.
Former mayor Poonam Sharma, Jatinder Bhatia, Sandeep Bhardwaj, Deipa Dubey, Mamta Rani, Poonam Moudgil, Gurmeet Singh, Chitranjan Chanchal, Ritu Chhabra and Ramesh Goyal were also among the losing candidates present at the UT Guest House.