AAP says poll diaries manipulated, Delhi election body denies charge
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday alleged that the Delhi election commission had got polling diaries manipulated by presiding officers in the South Delhi parliamentary seat after the national capital voted on May 12 .
The poll commission, however, refuted the allegations and said the Delhi chief electoral officer would meet senior leaders of the AAP on Saturday to clear their doubts.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the party had received “credible information” about the alleged poll code violation. The same allegation was levelled by AAP’s South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha who said that presiding officers were being summoned by the EC and are being asked to “re-create” and “re-sign” EVM related documents. Both the leaders, however, did not substantiate their claims with evidence .
Polling diaries are used to note hourly activity at a booth on polling day. On Saturday, AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Raghav Chadha will take the party’s complaint to the chief election commissioner and the Delhi CEO.
A senior poll official said that the returning officers (ROs) are well within their powers to summon presiding officers in case any clarification is needed on the conduction of polls. “There is no question of changing the poll diaries, as the original copy is with both the RO and the polling agents, while one copy is in the strong room with EVMs,” the official said.
“Every booth has a presiding officer who monitors the activities and work done by the election team there. We have credible information that on May 16, three days after Delhi’s polling day, about 200-250 presiding officers were called and asked to make fresh polling diaries which they signed again,” said Bharadwaj.
The AAP leader alleged that in the past two days presiding officers from Ambedkar Nagar and Badarpur constituencies had been called.
Nidhi Srivastava, the returning officer of South Delhi constituency said “misinformation” is being spread by politicians. “The polled EVMs and VVPATs are already in the strong room. A three-tier security — outer layer by the police, middle layer by armed police and inner layer from Central Armed Paramilitary Force — has been put in place to guard the strong rooms. Form 17C, which contains number of polled votes in each EVM/CU and copy of 17 C has already been given to all the polling agents who were present in that station. Hence, there is no chance for any manipulation,” she said.
“On counting day, the number of votes polled as recorded in the Form C from the strong room and the number of votes polled as recorded in the Form C from the counting agents will be matched before commencement of counting. If any discrepancy is found, the same will be reported to ECI for further action,” she added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday said that the AAP is staring at defeat and hence were levelling baseless allegations. The BJP said that the ruling party in Delhi has a habit of blaming the election commission and the voting process, as it had done by holding the EVMs responsible for its defeat in the municipal elections in 2017.
Delhi BJP media in-charge Pratyush Kanth said, “By levelling charges against the election commission, they have proved that insulting constitutional institutions is the part of their politics. The AAP is apprehensive of its defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Some of its candidates are going to forfeit their security deposits.”