The Election Commission on Saturday admitted that a power outage led to closed circuit television cameras installed in an Electronic Voting Machine strongroom not functioning for over an hour, NDTV reported.
“This office assures the voters of Madhya Pradesh that all EVMs are safe, secure, sealed,” the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer tweeted.
The admission came on a day that Opposition parties alleged wrongdoing after electronic voting machines reached a collection centre in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, two days after the polling exercise.
The CCTV failure triggered more concerns about tampering. Opposition parties have alleged the possibility of EVM tampering following the Election Commission’s statement.
“A report obtained from the Bhopal Collector states that CCTV cameras and an LED display installed outside the strongroom did not function from 8.19 am to 9.35 am on November 30 due to failure of electricity supply,” the Election Commission said, according to India Today. “Because of this, recording could not be done during the given time period.”
The Election Commission’s statement said an additional LED screen, an inverter and a generator have been installed to ensure that the power supply is not interrupted. “The security force is also maintaining a logbook, and the machines are perfectly safe,” the poll panel added. The statement said the commission had taken note of an unlocked door at the the Old Jail strongroom and adding that it “has been closed after the complaint”.
Delay in EVM arrival
The Congress alleged on Saturday that the EVMs were taken to a hotel owned by Home Minister Bhupendra Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Singh is the MLA from Khurai, where the machines were kept before being brought to the collection centre. In response, the chief electoral officer of Madhya Pradesh tweeted that the polling officer who took the machines to the hotel has been suspended and a disciplinary inquiry ordered. He said these EVMs were not used during polling.
A Congress delegation on Saturday met Election Commission officials to share its concerns about measures taken to protect EVMs in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where Assembly polls were recently held. Referring to the delay in the arrival of the spare EVMs, Congress MP Vivek Tankha said, “The spare EVMs were to be deposited two hours after the polls, not two days. This happened in the Khurai seat, from where the state home minister is contesting the polls.”
The delegation claimed that “suspicious people” were seen near the strongrooms with laptops and mobile phones in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari, NDTV reported.