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Maharashtra bypolls: Overnight, Palghar, Bhandara-Gondiya turnouts spike by up to 11%

While a slight change in the polling percentage is expected after voting, these revisions ranged between 7% and 11%.

mumbai Updated: May 31, 2018 01:35 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Voters stand in queue outside a polling booth during elections in Palghar on Monday.(Hindustan Times)

A day after bypolls in Maharashtra’s Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya constituencies, the Election Commission of India (ECI) released revised figures of the voter turnout.

While a slight change in the polling percentage is expected after voting, these revisions ranged between 7% and 11%. In Palghar, it was revised to 53.22% from Monday’s 46.5%. In Bhandara-Gondiya, it went up to 53.15% from 42.25%.

The Shiv Sena and other political parties have now raised questions over the significant rise in the polling figures, with the Sena alleging that the rise, in just a day, means an increase of 82,000 votes, which is called suspicious.

“How can there be such a huge difference in two official figures in just a few hours,” said Sena leader Sanjay Raut, while demanding an inquiry. “This entire episode is suspicious and needs to be thoroughly investigated.”

The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, led by MLA Hitendra Thakur, claimed it was a conspiracy by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “Though the Election Commission is an autonomous institution, the officials are appointed by the government. The ruling BJP is behind the entire goof-up and the malfunctions reported during the polling,” Thakur said.

“The ECI’s decision of using the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) brought from Gujarat was also suspicious. They should have been brought from other states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which are ruled by non-BJP parties,” Thakur said.

“One needs to understand the polling process. The percentage announced on Monday was the preliminary estimated figures, which were revised on Tuesday after we received the accurate figures from each of the polling booths.

Secondly, voters in many booths were given the opportunity to vote even after 6pm, after complaints of a failure of the machines. This also resulted in the change in polling percentage,” said Ashwani Kumar, the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra. Kumar added, “There could not be any problem with the EVMs and the votes secured in them. There was nothing wrong in the revision as it is the practice that has been followed for years.” Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye called the allegations of unfair practices “politically motivated”.

First Published: May 31, 2018 01:35 IST