The Election Commission on Monday dismissed reports of large-scale failure of electronic voting machines during bye-elections in four Lok Sabha constituencies and nine Assembly seats across 10 states.
“The replacement of defective EVMs/VVPATs during actual polls is a normal process and does not vitiate the integrity or credibility of the poll process in any way whatsoever,” PTI quoted the poll panel as saying. “The reports emerging in some quarters about EVMs/VVPATs failing in 25% polling booths in the same constituency are also incorrect.” Re-elections would be ordered wherever necessary, it added.
In Maharashtra’s Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency polling was suspended at 35 booths. In the Kairana Lok Sabha bye-election in Uttar Pradesh, Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Tabassum Hasan wrote to the election panel after polling began, complaining that voting machines and voter-verified paper audit trail were malfunctioning at nearly 175 booths. The Samajwadi Party also alleged that EVMs were tampered during the Noorpur Assembly bye-election. The party’s leader, Akhilesh Yadav, alleged that he had received complaints about thousands of faulty voting machines.
Voting began at 7 am on Monday. Apart from the bye-elections, polls are also being held at Raja Rajeshwari Nagar in Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru, where polling was deferred earlier this month after nearly 10,000 voter identity cards were confiscated from a flat.
The Lok Sabha seats where bye-elections were held are Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra, Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, and Nagaland’s sole parliamentary constituency.
The Assembly bye-elections were conducted in Gomia and Silli constituencies of Jharkhand, Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh, Shahkot in Punjab, Jokihat in Bihar, Chengannur in Kerala, Ampati in Meghalaya, Tharali in Uttarakhand, and Maheshtala in West Bengal.
All results will be declared on May 31.
A bye-election in Palus-Kadegaon, Maharashtra, is no longer necessary since the Election Commission declared the Congress candidate Vishwajeet Kadam the unopposed winner after the BJP withdrew its candidate. The bye-poll, which was necessitated as Kadam’s father Patangrao had died, was also scheduled for Monday.
Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra
In Maharashtra’s Palghar, a bye-poll was necessitated after the three-time Bharatiya Janata Party MP Chintaman Vanga died in January after a heart attack. This is a seat reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes.
A bye-election was scheduled in Bhandara-Gondiya after sitting MP Nana Patole quit the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined the Congress in December.
Opposition parties Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have formed an alliance to contest the bye-elections in Maharashtra. Voting did not start till 9.35 am at polling booth No. 170 in Arjun-Morgaon area of Gondiya due to faulty Electronic Voting Machines, reported ANI.
Around noon, voting was temporarily suspended at 35 booths in Gondiya because of faulty Electronic Voting Machines.
Kairana seat in Uttar Pradesh
In this politically sensitive seat, which voted again following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, 54.17% of the electorate voted. Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh is the BJP’s candidate.
The Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Nishad Party are supporting Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Tabassum Hasan in an effort to defeat Mriganka Singh.
Voting was stalled at Public Inter College soon after polling began due to faulty Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines, or VVPATs, according to ANI.
Tabassum Hasan wrote to the Election Commission after polling began, complaining that voting machines and voter-verified paper audit trail were malfunctioning at nearly 175 booths, ANI reported. The Samajwadi Party also wrote to the election panel about the malfunctioning machines. Samajwadi Party Ram Gopal Yadav said his party had asked the poll panel to conduct the elections again in places where more than one-and-a-half hours were wasted.
The district magistrate of Shamli, Vikram Singh, said the problems were with voter-verified paper audit trail machines and not the voting machines. “The problem has been solved now,” Singh told ANI. “Some machines have been replaced at some booths. The voting is now running smoothly.”
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party was the Lok Sabha member from the sole parliamentary constituency in the state, until he quit to contest the Assembly elections in February. This made a bye-election necessary in Nagaland.
The Congress is supporting the Naga People’s Front candidate C Apok Jamir. The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance, which consists of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, has fielded former minister Tokheho Yepthomi.
Till 5 pm, 88.58% voter turnout was registered, News 18 reported.
Assembly seats in Jharkhand
A bye-election was required in the Gomia Assembly seat after the expulsion of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Yogendra Prasad Mahto. He was convicted in a coal theft case.
The other seat in Jharkhand where voting is taking place, Silli, also fell vacant in March after the conviction of JMM’s Amit Mahto in an assault case.
Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh
The bye-election in Noorpur, which was necessitated after the death of MLA Lokendra Singh Chouhan of the BJP, saw 61% voter turnout, PTI reported.
The Samajwadi Party alleged that EVMs were tampered. “There are reports that in Noorpur 140 EVMs are faulty, which is because they’ve been tampered,” said party leader Rajendra Chaudhary. “There are similar reports from Kairana. They [BJP] want to avenge defeat in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, which is why they want to defeat us at any cost.”
Shahkot in Punjab
The bye-poll was necessitated after Shiromani Akali Dal’s Ajit Singh Kohar died in February this year. The ruling Congress party has fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while the Akali Dal has given a ticket to Kohar’s son Naib Singh Kohar. The Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the bye-poll.
Three VVPAT machines at booth No. 27, 28 and 132 were replaced during the polling. Till 1 pm, 44% voting was recorded.
Jokihat in Bihar
The bye-election was necessitated because Sarfaraz Alam, the sitting Janata Dal (United) MLA, quit his party after the alliance with the BJP, and joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He contested the recent election from the Araria Lok Sabha seat and won. For this bye-election, the RJD has fielded Sarfaraz Alam’s younger brother, Shahnawaz Alam. The JD(U)’s candidate is Murshid Alam. The elections saw 55% turnout, IANS reported.
Mohammed Salim, a resident of Chaukta, told Firstpost that 2,600 voters across four polling booths were boycotting these elections. He said they decided to abstain after a promise to rebuild a bridge connecting Chaukta to its neighbours has not been fulfilled for four years.
Chengannur in Kerala
The Chengannur Assembly seat went to polls after the sitting MLA, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s KK Ramachandran Nair, died.
While the ruling Left Democratic Front has fielded CPI(M)’s Alappuzha district secretary Saji Cheriyan, the Congress-led United Democratic Front’s nominee is D Vijayakumar. Former BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai is also in the fray.
Ampati in Meghalaya
In Meghalaya’s Ampati, a bye-poll is taking place because former chief minister and Congress MLA Mukul Sangma resigned from this seat in March as he had also won from Songsak. The ruling National People’s Party and the Congress faced off in this elections. The results will decide which will become the single largest party in the state. Both NPP and the Congress have 20 members each in the 60-member Assembly.
Till 4 pm, 85.01% voter turnout was registered.
Tharali seat in Uttarakhand
The bye-poll was necessitated after the death of BJP legislator Magan Lal Shah. It is considered the first litmus test for the BJP that swept the Assembly elections last year. The BJP has fielded Lal’s wife Munni Devi against former legislator Jeet Ram of the Congress.
Maheshtala in West Bengal
The bye-poll, which was necessitated after Trinamool Congress’ Kasturi Das died, will witness a three-way contest between the ruling party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the BJP. The Congress has not fielded any candidate due to an informal understanding with the Left Front.
Till 9 am, 15.5% voter turnout was registered. The Election Commission said it has replaced all faulty EVMs.