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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Opposition delegation meets EC chief over ‘faulty’ EVMs

According to opposition leaders, EVMs in Barackpore display the initials BJP in the water below the lotus that is the symbol of the ruling party at the Centre.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 27, 2019 23:50 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
EVMs in Bengal,Election Commission,Barrackpore
Congress and TMC leaders Derek O' Brien, Randeep Surjewala, Ahmed Patel, Dinesh Trivedi, Manu Singhvi and others leave after meeting with EC, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

Opposition leaders on Saturday complained to the Election Commission (EC) about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s initials showing up below its symbol, the lotus, on electronic voting machines during a mock poll in West Bengal’s Barrackpore parliamentary constituency. The poll panel has maintained that the same insignia was used for the party in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

EVMs display party symbols, names of the candidates and their photographs.

According to opposition leaders, EVMs in Barrackpore, in North 24 Parganas district, display the initials BJP below the lotus symbol, which is the sign of the ruling party at the Centre.

Congress’s Ahmed Patel and Abhishek Manu Singhvi and the Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and Dinesh Trivedi met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Saturday.

“Either remove all machines which mention BJP clearly or all other parties’ name should be added in all such machines. Till then the use of these machines has to be totally stopped in the elections,” Singhvi told reporters after meeting the CEC.

The office of the chief electoral officer of West Bengal dismissed a similar complaint on Friday.

“Yesterday the commissioning of EVMs was going on in my constituency. We saw the name of BJP clearly written under its Lotus symbol... we requested the returning officer to stop the commissioning. We approached the state election body also. But the CEO could not take a decision saying elections are already going on,” Trivedi said.

Both TMC and Congress submitted memorandums to the EC.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission, in a letter to Trinamool Congress general secretary Subrata Bakshi, said, “The symbol of BJP was last modified in 2013 and subsequent to that in all elections, including the general elections in 2014, the same design has been used.” The commission said there has been no deviation in the symbol since then.

“Just like a child who makes excuses to justify his underperformance in exams, opposition parties have started directing their anger on the EVMs and the voting process for their shortfalls,” PM Narendra Modi had said at a rally, last week.

Meanwhile EVM troubles marked the third phase of the polling that took place on April 23, with reports of malfunctioning machines coming from Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Assam, among other states. Odisha Chief Electoral Officer on Saturday said he has recommended fresh polling in 12 booths over eight assembly segments and asked political parties not to worry about the safety of EVMs. Re-polling has also been ordered at three booths in the Raigunj Lok Sabha seat in Bengal, where elections were held on April 18, for the same reason.

Following the third phase, several opposition leaders held a press conference in Mumbai alleging that EVMs were being manipulated. The EC clarified that only a small number of machines out of the total used, were replaced on polling day.

Last week, 21 opposition parties filed a review petition at the Supreme Court pleading that EVMs be backed up by paper trail device printouts in at least half the booths.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 23:50 IST