A team of Election Commission officers from Delhi on Monday said that the Electronic Voting Machine used in a demonstration in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh, was “faulty” and that it was among the 300 that were sent from Kanpur after the recent Uttar Pradesh elections. The EVM had triggered a controversy after a video showed it generating a receipt for the Bharatiya Janata Party even though state Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh had selected the button for the Samajwadi Party.
The officers were flown in from Delhi on Sunday to look into allegations of EVM manipulation and quell concerns of Opposition parties ahead of the by-polls to two Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh on April 9. Officials told The Times of India that the machine seen in the video was used for voting in Kanpur’s Govindnagar constituency during the UP Assembly elections. BJP’s Satyadev Pachauri – now a UP Cabinet minister – had won from the Govindnagar constituency.
The Congress has questioned why the EVMs were allowed to be moved from Kanpur to Bhind. Party spokesperson KK Mishra said, “There is a provision [in law] that says that the data in the voting machine has to be preserved for 90 days so that the same can be presented before a court of law if any candidate decides to challenge the election results,” India Today reported.
After leaders of the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party approached the Election Commission, alleging EVM tampering again, the polling monitor said two teams of EC officers, along with technical experts, will be deployed in Madhya Pradesh to ensure that the EVMs and Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails used in the April 9 by-polls were “to the complete satisfaction of all stakeholders”.
Bhind Collector Illayaraja T, Superintendant of Police Anil Singh Kushwaha and Sub-Divisional Officer of Police Indraveer Singh were removed from their posts after the video surfaced. While an inquiry has been launched against 19 other officials, locals have been protesting against Illayaraja’s transfer. He was popular in Bhind for standing against the mining mafia.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had asked the commission to investigate whether the EVMs used in the last few Assembly elections were rigged to favour the BJP. Kejriwal had met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and suggested that ballot papers be used in the country as they had been in the past. The EC, however, reiterated that the EVMs currently in use are tamper-proof and asked Kejriwal to “introspect on its defeat” in the Punjab Assembly elections, instead of doubting the equipment.