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Centre cautions states over possible results day violence

In Delhi, the Union home ministry alerted all states and Union Territories (UTs) on the possibility of violence flaring up in different parts of the country, saying calls had been given in various quarters for inciting violence.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 23, 2019 06:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
counting day,LOk Sabha elections 2019,PM Modi
Parties asked workers to remain alert and check any vehicle or person entering or leaving the premises where the EVMs are being stored. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

Political parties dispatched senior leaders to the states, candidates camped in local hotels and workers spent sleepless nights guarding strongrooms storing Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) as the Election Commission threw a three-tier security cordon around counting centres ahead of the start of vote counting in the Lok Sabha polls on Thursday.

In Delhi, the Union home ministry alerted all states and Union Territories (UTs) on the possibility of violence flaring up in different parts of the country, saying calls had been given in various quarters for inciting violence. In a statement, the ministry also said it asked the states and UTs to maintain law and order, peace and tranquillity.

“The home ministry has alerted the state chief secretaries and directors general of police regarding possibility of eruption of violence in different parts of the country in connection with the counting of votes tomorrow,” the statement read.

“This is in the wake of calls given and statements made in various quarters for inciting violence and causing disruption on the day of counting of votes,” it added, singling out in particular the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura.

Parties asked workers to remain alert and check any vehicle or person entering or leaving the premises where the EVMs are being stored. The EC also bolstered security outside the strongrooms and counting centres, and poll officials cautioned that results in many centres may be late.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral oOficer(CEO) V Kantha Rao said counting will start from 8 am, and the first results are expected by 10 pm.

“There are at least 20 constituencies where results are expected to be announced after midnight or even in the 24th morning, so we have kept relievers both for security personnel and those involved in counting. District collectors have been asked to ensure to be extra careful at night not only in the counting centres, but all over the district,” Rao said.

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In the battleground state of West Bengal, which has been roiled by clashes over the past two months, 200 companies of central forces were asked to guard the storage centres and the transport vehicles for the EVMs. Central forces will be present inside the counting rooms on Thursday while entry points to these rooms and the building will be manned by state and Kolkata police and the state’s rapid action force. Plainclothes policemen will be deployed within a 100-metre radius of the counting centres.

In the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance asked its leaders to remain alert and ordered candidates to stay back in their constituencies and keep an eye on strongrooms where EVMs are being stored. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath said those attempting to foment trouble would be sternly dealt with.Union minister Smriti Irani decided to spend counting day eve in Amethi, where she is taking on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

A BSP leader, not willing to be named, said party leaders organised training programmes for agents and representatives who would be present during the counting of votes. “They have been directed to cross-check EVM votes as well as VVPAT (voter verified paper audit trail) slips. If any irregularity is detected, the agents will alert the candidates as well as party leaders,” he added. The state, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, has been rocked by complaints over EVM transportation and tampering– all of which have been denied by the EC.

In Gujarat, the Congress said its main concern was the availability of WiFi near strongrooms located within college or university campuses.

The BJP said it had full trust in the EC. In Rajasthan, the Congress decided to keep at hand a team of advocates in Jaipur to look into any irregularities or complaints on Thursday. In Odisha, CEO Surendra Kumar said in view of the prevailing heat wave, all the counting centres had been provided air-conditioning.

First Published: May 22, 2019 17:17 IST

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