TMC candidate sources voter turnout data from Form 17C Part I | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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TMC candidate sources voter turnout data from Form 17C Part I

May 28, 2024 09:15 PM IST

The TMC candidate said he collected form 17c from all the booths and asked EC how long will it take for it to declare the number of votes polled

On May 27, less than 48 hours after polling for phase 6 of the general elections ended, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, Trinamool Congress’s candidate from the constituency of Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh, tweeted a photo of five stacks of forms, and said, “Dear @ECISVEEP, @ceoup, I have collected form 17c from all the booths (Bhadohi Loksabha) and tabulated the data of vote %. Now over to you, how long will you take to declare the number of votes polled.”

TMC candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi. (Image posted by Lalitesh Pati Tripathi on Facebook)
TMC candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi. (Image posted by Lalitesh Pati Tripathi on Facebook)

To source the Form 17C Part I forms from the 2,084 polling booths of the five assembly constituencies under Bhadohi, Tripathi had relied on a network of about 2,100 polling agents and booth presidents that the Samajwadi Party (SP) had set up during the assembly elections of 2022. TMC and SP are allies in Uttar Pradesh.

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Tripathi said that he had received most of the forms on the day of polling itself on WhatsApp. “They were collected by the sector in-charges and zonal presidents who were put in charge of collecting them. They passed most of them to me on the same day itself. The phones of a few polling agents were turned off, so those forms came a day later,” he said. Neither party had to pay the polling agents anything for sourcing the forms from the polling booths.

Tripathi is the second TMC candidate after Mahua Moitra to collect the Form 17C Part I from all the polling booths.

“I cannot comment on whether this is being done by all TMC candidates. This was suggested to us, and I did it,” Tripathi told HT on Tuesday. This was done to get the number of exact votes polled in his constituency along with the identification number of the three different components of the electronic voting machine --- control unit (controlled by the polling officer), ballot unit (where the voter votes within the voting compartment), and the VVPAT (where the voter confirms that their vote went to the right candidate).

The polling agents were trained about three things, Tripathi said --- how to ensure that the EVM is working properly during the mock poll; what the agents have to do throughout the day; and what they have to do at the end of polling when the EVMs are sealed and transported to the strong room in the district headquarters. “We trained the sector in-charges during the elections. These people are not new and have done this work during the 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections as well,” he said.

Tripathi did this exercise to show that after the scrutiny of the forms and other documents on the day after polling, the election officials have all the data in hand to release it. “Post scrutiny, they have all the data in hand at the centrally located district headquarters,” he said.

But even with all the forms, Tripathi has still not tabulated the polling data. “I have not had time to tabulate it yet and we are working on that. Everybody will be back at the office tomorrow [May 29] or the day after. People are on a break after the intense campaign period,” Tripathi said.

Why expect the EC to do it at national level then? “The difference is that the polling parties [of the Election Commission] bring these forms along with the EVMs to the strong room at the district headquarters. This is part of the responsibility of the polling parties. They do not get holidays like I can give to my people,” he said.

And the EC has reacted to all the criticism levelled against it for not releasing turnout data promptly in the ongoing general elections. The poll body released the voter turnout for phase 6, both in percentage and absolute numbers, by constituency, on Tuesday, within three days of polling, the quickest turnaround this election season.

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