Opposition concerned about faulty EVMs in bypolls

Voting took place in four Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) seats and 10 assembly constituencies across 10 states

New Delhi: Even as polling for by-elections for several Parliamentary and legislative assembly seats in different states took place on Monday, the Opposition raised concerns about the malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in over 350 polling stations.

Voting took place in four Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) seats and 10 assembly constituencies across ten states.

The parliamentary by-elections were held in Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) Kairana, Bhandara-Gondiya and Palghar in Maharashtra and Nagaland.

The assembly by-elections were held in Palus Kadegaon constituency (Maharashtra), Noorpur (UP), Jokihat (Bihar), Gomia and Silli (Jharkhand), Chengannur (Kerala), Ampati (Meghalaya), Shahkot (Punjab), Tharali (Uttarakhand) and Maheshtala (West Bengal).

The counting of votes will take place on Thursday.

As complaints about malfunctioning of EVMs flowed in from politically sensitive Kairana and Noorpur constituencies of UP, the authorities admitted that the “severe heat conditions” interfered with the machines.

“Due to high temperature, voting machines’ sensor is developing a glitch. We are getting real-time complaints. Each issue is being resolved within 15 minutes as officers are there at every centre,” Shamli District Magistrate Indra Vikram Singh told media.

There were reports of malfunctioning of 84 EVMs in Noorpur and 150 in Kairana.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former Chief Minister (CM) of UP Akhilesh Yadav tweeted that “whether it is a technical snag or a deliberate move to mar elections, the foundation of democracy is certainly in danger.”

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary called it a “systematic anarchy”.

RLD spokesman Anil Dubey alleged that there were reports of EVM malfunctioning in areas particularly dominated by the RLD-SP combine.

“BJP wants to avenge their defeat in the earlier bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur and win the ongoing polls. We, from RLD and SP, are going to meet the chief electoral officer to lodge a formal complaint in this regard,” Dubey told media.

In Kairana, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukum Singh whose death made the election necessary, against RLD candidate Tabassum Hassan.

Meanwhile, bypoll to the Palghar Parliamentary seat in Maharashtra fuelled tension between Shiv Sena and BJP.

After Sena gave a ticket to the son of a sitting BJP lawmaker who died earlier this year, BJP fielded former Congress minister Rajendra Gavit, who recently joined the party.

According to Election Commission (EC), the polling percentage for West Bengal’s Maheshtala was 70.01 per cent. In Punjab’s Sahkot it was 59 per cent and Jharkhand’s Silli 75.50 per cent.

In UP, Noorpur by-election saw 57 per cent voter turnout, Kairana 55 per cent, Shamli 45 per cent and Thana Bhawan 49 per cent. Meghalaya’s Ampati recorded 85 per cent voting and Nagaland Parliamentary constituency 75 per cent.

Describing reports of large-scale voting machine malfunction “an exaggeration”, the EC said it took immediate steps to rectify it.

It also denied reports of polls being cancelled in 35 booths in the Bhandara-Gondiya Parliamentary Constituency in Maharashtra.

“It is clarified that voting was not cancelled in any polling station in Bhandara-Gondiya constituency and voting continued smoothly after necessary replacements,” it said.


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