Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Fate of 120 candidates sealed amid allegations of snag in EVMs
The 10 constituencies that went to polls in this phase are Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, Badaun, Aonla, Bareilly and Pilibhit.Updated: Apr 24, 2019 10:40 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Braving scorching heat, voters in 10 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh exercised their franchise in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections which was marred by complaints of technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Prominent leaders in the fray in the third phase of polling, include four members of Samajwadi Party’s Yadav family -- SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri), his two nephews Dharmendra Yadav (Badaun) and Akshay Yadav (Firozabad), and brother Shivpal Yadav (Firozabad) who has parted ways with the SP to float his own political party Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia. Shivpal is up against his nephew Akhshay Yadav.
The other political heavyweights include union minister Santosh Gangwar (Bareilly), BJP’s Varun Gandhi (Pilibhit), senior SP leader Azam Khan and BJP’s Jaya Prada (both from Rampur).
The 10 constituencies that went to polls in this phase are Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, Badaun, Aonla, Bareilly and Pilibhit.
A total of 20,116 polling booths were set up to decide the fate of 120 candidates in the fray.
FIRST-TIME VOTERS ENTHUSIASTIC
Despite scorching heat, voters were enthusiastic about exercising their right to franchise.
A first-time voter in Bareilly, Rishabh Kumar, 22, said: “In 2017 (assembly elections), I was not here so I could not cast my vote. This time, I took a leave and came here specially to vote.”
Another first-time voter Rashmi Pathak said, “I am excited to cast my vote and the officers and security personnel are very cooperative.”
In Rampur garden polling booth of Bareilly, a blind youth and his blind sister were the first to cast vote. “We just wanted to motivate people to come out and vote. No political parties listen to the woes of physically-handicapped people but we want to send a message to voters,” they said.
Two presiding officers, Vinay Kumar and Anil Sharma, suffered heart attack in Bareilly and Sambhal respectively.
They were rushed to the hospital and are undergoing treatment.
FAULTY EVM CLAIMS MAR POLLING
Allegations of faulty EVMs poured in from various constituencies.
Citing media reports, SP president Akhilesh Yadav claimed that EVMs across the country were malfunctioning or voting for the BJP.
“EVMs across India malfunctioning or voting for the BJP. DMs say poll officials untrained to operate EVMs. 350+ being replaced. This is criminal negligence for a polling exercise that costs (Rs) 50,000 crore. Should we believe DMs @ECISVEEP, or is something far more sinister afoot?” Akhilesh tweeted.
In Rampur, SP candidate Mohd Azam Khan and his son and SP MLA from Suar Abdullah Azam Khan alleged that more than 300 EVMs were not functioning properly and added that the district officials were delaying their replacement as a result of which voting was slow.
Khan also alleged that his supporters were being prevented from voting.
Additional returning officer, Rampur, Brahma Dev Ram Tiwari, rubbished the allegations and claimed that there were minor problems in some EVMs which were rectified.
Chief electoral officer L Venkateshwarlu said allegations by Azam and his son about malfunctioning of 300 EVMs were baseless. “The Rampur DM has sent his report to the CEO office,” he added.
He said there were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs at some booths which were promptly rectified.
Similar reports were received from Sambhal, Pilibhit and other constituencies.
At a polling booth in Etah, voters alleged that presiding office Yogesh Kumar was forcibly getting votes polled in favour of the Samajwadi Party following which he was removed.
In constituencies falling under Bareilly region, as many as 200 complaints of faulty EVMs were reported. District poll officials promptly responded to these glitches and most of the faults were mitigated. An estimated 60 faulty EVMs were also replaced.
Voters of booth number 359 of Muniya Kheda village in Firozabad boycotted the polls on Tuesday, saying no development had been done in the village in the past several years. The sub-divisional magistrate and other officials reached the village to pacify them.
Meanwhile, in Mohara polling station in Etah, a polling officer Sri Krishna sustained injuries after a ceiling fan fell on him.
SSP, Etah Swapnil Mamgain said the officer was shifted to SN Medical College in Agra for treatment.
DHARMENDRA YADAV ALLEGES CONSPIRACY
Sitting SP MP Dharmendra Yadav, who is seeking re-election from Badaun, complained against UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, alleging that he was attempting to influence polling in favour of his daughter and BJP candidate Sanghamitra Maurya.
“Swami Prasad Maurya is sitting in Awas Vikas Colony’s house no. 230. We complained to the EC and the district administration but no action was taken. The administration is not listening to us,” said Yadav.
The district administration officials raided the house but failed to find Maurya.
City magistrate Kamlesh Kumar Awasthi said there were reports about the minister being present at the house and a raid was carried out on the directions of district magistrate Dinesh Kumar Singh but only the house owner’s family was found there.
BJP WORKERS BEAT UP POLL OFFICIAL
In Moradabad, BJP workers allegedly beat up an election official accusing him of influencing voters.
The BJP workers alleged that the officer, Mohammad Zubair, was asking voters to press the symbol of the Samajwadi Party.
Police officers present at the spot immediately intervened and rescued the official.
YADAV FAMILY VOTES
In Mainpuri, SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is contesting for the fifth consecutive term from Mainpuri, cast his vote on Tuesday. He was accompanied by his wife Sadhna Gupta, son and party chief Akhilesh Yadav and daughters-in-law Dimple Yadav and Aparna Yadav.
Mulayam had recently announced at an election rally that this was his last election.
Earlier in Saifai, Akhilesh said: “The SP-BSP-RLD alliance will wipe out the BJP from UP. The country will get a new prime minister on May 23.”
TOUGH CONTEST IN ROHILKHAND
The region which is largely held by the BJP witnessed a close contest between the ruling party and SP-BSP-RLD alliance.
In Bareilly, seven-time MP Santosh Gangwar crossed swords with Bhagwat Saran Gangwar while in Rampur, friends-turned-foe Azam Khan and Jaya Prada are face-to-face.
In Badaun, BJP’s Sanghamitra Maurya is challenging two-time MP Dharmendra Yadav. Varun Gandhi is fighting from Pilibhit against former SP MLA Hemraj Verma. In Sambhal, BJP had nominated Parmeshwar Lal Saini against Shafiq-ur-Rehman of the alliance. Moradabad witnessed a contest between sitting BJP MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar and Dr ST Hasan.
Rohilkhand lacks development, infrastructure and jobs. The region does not have sizeable industries forcing young generation to migrate out of the region.
Rahul Srivastav, 24, a young voter said: “I have not been able to find a decent job in the district in the last two years after completing my graduation. I am now planning to move to Delhi.”
The region has a sizable sugarcane and wheat growing belt and farmers complain of lack of government support and rising labour prices.
First Published: Apr 24, 2019 10:40 IST