Kejriwal’s tweet on officials ‘removing’ voting machines sends Patiala admn into tizzy
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its chief Arvind Kejriwal sent the administration of Punjab’s Patiala district into a tizzy on Monday afternoon about “officials removing electronic voting machines (EVMs)” from the strongroom. However, it turned out to be false alarm. The EVMs being moved were from the 2015 municipal polls that had been lying on the premises, while the assembly poll machines remain intact, inside the strongroom.punjab Updated: Feb 13, 2017 23:38 IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its chief Arvind Kejriwal sent the administration of Punjab’s Patiala district into a tizzy on Monday afternoon about “officials removing electronic voting machines (EVMs)” from the strongroom set up at a college in the city. However, it turned out to be false alarm.
The EVMs being moved were from the 2015 municipal polls that had been lying on the premises, while the assembly poll machines remain intact, inside the strongroom, according to deputy commissioner Ramvir Singh.
The drama started when, based on a video supplied by local AAP volunteers, Delhi CM Kejriwal tweeted: “This is absolutely shocking. Punjab officials trying to remove EVM machines”.
In another tweet, Kejriwal even alleged that “officers entered strongroom on the pretext of taking some papers but started removing EVMs”. This, before any verification or formal complaint to the poll authorities from him.
RO allowed 4 people to enter the strong room where EVM machines are kept to take some papers, but they tried to move boxes with EVm machines pic.twitter.com/aO5lsYazEg— Durgesh Pathak (@ipathak25) February 13, 2017
This is absolutely shocking. Punjab officials trying to remove EVM machines https://t.co/7qggvhTDd2— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 13, 2017
Minutes after that, though, the party lodged a complaint with the Election Commission in Delhi and also to Punjab’s chief electoral officer VK Singh.
The DC, on directions from VK Singh, rushed to the strongroom.
Meanwhile, AAP candidates Balbir Singh (Patiala Urban), Karanvir Singh Tiwana (Patiala Rural) and Gurdev Singh ‘Dev’ Mann (Nabha) also alleged that the district administration tried to “sabotage” the polls. They said the EVM removal was stopped when AAP workers saw it happening.
It turned out to be much ado about nothing, as the DC showed the AAP workers that older EVMs were being removed to make space for the March 11 counting of votes of Nabha and Patiala Rural at the college where the strongroom has been established.
In a letter to the state CEO, the DC said that since voting day on February 4, the strongroom remains “sealed and double-locked and handed over to the CRPF, which has been deployed 24x7 as per ECI guidelines”.
As for Monday’s action, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM)-cum-returning officer for Nabha had taken the initiative of creating more space, and asked the additional deputy commissioner (ADC), development, to vacate a room. All parties were duly informed.
Inside that room, there were trunks that had EVMs in them. Upon seeing the machines, AAP candidate Dev Mann became suspicious. “The shifting was stopped and he put his own lock on the room,” wrote the DC.
“After checking details on the carrying cases, EVMs and address tags, it was established that the EVMs were make of 2001, 2006 and 2007, which had been used in municipal elections held in 2015,” the DC said.
The strongroom, with its seals intact, was also shown to the candidates.
Apart from this, the DC orally briefed the CEO and sent video clips, while the EC and CEO already have direct access to live feed from cameras installed at the strongroom.
Pertinently, the AAP has already filed a writ petition in the court demanding more security for EVMs, and its workers have pitched tents outside strongrooms to keep a round-the-clock vigil.