Opposition alleges bid to change EVMs in Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli
Three days before counting of votes for the Lok Sabah elections, controversy erupted with a group of SP-BSP alliance and Congress workers staging a demonstration at Navin Krishi Mandi Sthal in Chandauli on Monday evening alleging that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were being changed at the instance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The protest took place when additional EVMs from the Sakaldiha assembly segment were brought there. Chandauli had gone to poll in the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha election on Sunday.
The administration, however, denied the allegation that EVMs were being changed.
It said additional unused EVMs from Sakaldiha assembly segment were brought to Naveen Mandi
Sthal and they were meant to be stored in a different room at the place.
“Thirty five additional unused EVMs were kept at the Sakaldiha tehsil. These couldn’t be transported on Sunday and were brought from Sakaldiha on Monday to be stored in a different place,” district election officer Navneet Singh Chahal said.
The EVMs used for voting were already sealed in the strong room at the Navin Mandi Sthal in presence of the leaders of the all the parties on Sunday night, officials said.
Additional chief electoral officer BDR Tiwari said the reserved/unused EVMs from Sakaldiha assembly segment in Chandauli arrived late.
“When the vehicle transporting the EVMs unloaded the EVMs, the leaders and workers of some political parties objected,” he said. They were told the EVMs were unused, he said, adding they were taken to the strong room and shown the seal on the door.
“The district administration officers held a meeting with the leaders of all the political parties to resolve the matter,” Tiwari said.
Earlier in the day, Samajwadi Party MLA Prabhunarayan Yadav, who represents Sakaldiha segment, and a number of Congress and the BSP leaders reached the spot. He alleged that the EVMs were being replaced at the instance of the BJP. The leaders demanded that the EVMs should be kept somewhere else.
In Ghazipur, SP-BSP alliance candidate Afzal Ansari staged a demonstration a few metres from the strong room, alleging that EVMs from other districts were being brought there. The administration denied the charge.
District election officer K Balaji reached the spot and tried to convince Ansari, telling him that tight security arrangements were in place for the EVMs at the strong room. His allegations had no basis, the officer said. As the district officer rejected his demand, Ansari continued his sit-in.
The administration then deployed additional forces at Navin Mandi Sthal. Ansari, along with some leaders and workers of the alliance, continued their the sit-in till late night. Talks were on between him and the administration to resolve the stalemate.