Election watch: Opposition attacks EC for rejecting plea on VVPAT counting, Amit Shah backs panel
All of today’s Lok Sabha poll updates, as they happen.
India’s seven-phase General Elections concluded on May 19, and the results are due on May 23. For the full schedule click here, and to subscribe to our newsletter about the elections, click here. Here is all our election news coverage.
The Election Commission on Wednesday rejected the Opposition’s demand related to the electronic voting machines and voter verified paper audit trail slips. Opposition parties subsequently criticised the poll panel sharply, calling it a “black day for democracy”. However, BJP National President Amit Shah said the opposition to the machines disrespects the mandate of the people.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted protection from arrest for five days to Arjun Singh, the BJP’s candidate from Barrackpore constituency in West Bengal. Singh claimed he was implicated by the West Bengal Police, and had sought protection from arrest in “political cases” lodged against him.
11 pm: The results o the 17th Lok Sabha elections will be out on Thursday. Counting of votes will begin at 8 am.
9.50 pm: The poll panel will deploy an additional 200 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces in West Bengal during counting on Thursday, PTI reports. As many as 82 companies of the CAPF have already been posted in the state. West Bengal had witnessed violence during all seven phases of polling.
9.39 pm: The Congress, Telugu Desam Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) criticise the poll panel for rejecting its demand to tweak the system of counting VVPAT slips, calling it a “black day for democracy”. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi asks whether the poll panel has turned the electronic voting machines, to which VVPATs are attached, into “electronic victory machines”, and the Model Code of Conduct into “Modi’s Campaign Code”.
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Lok Sabha elections: Opposition criticises poll panel’s refusal to change VVPAT counting system
9.29 pm: Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah says it was BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao who authored a book doubting EVMs. “BJP was the first to raise doubts about the EVMs,” he tweets. “The spokesperson of that party had even written a book. Supporting the doubt, LK Advani had written the preface of the book. What’s the reason behind BJP’s change in stand in the last 10 years?”
9.07 pm: The Centre asks states to remain vigilant about a possible eruption of violence in different parts of the country during counting of votes. The Ministry of Home Affairs says it has alerted the state chief secretaries and directors general of police in “the wake of calls given and statements made in various quarters” for sparking violence.
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Centre asks states to remain alert on counting day, claims calls given to ‘incite violence’
8.41 pm: TMC district president Rabindranath Ghosh claims Coochbehar SP Amit Kumar Singh refused to grant permission to set up a TMC camp near the counting centre, News18 reports.
8 pm: Telugu Desam Party Minister Lokesh Nara criticises the EC’s decision to reject the Opposition’s demand related to the electronic voting machines. “A genuine and fair demand for transparency is chucked out the window without a reason,” Nara tweets. “A dark day for Indian democracy!”
7.55 pm: Security force personnel conduct a raid at the house of independent candidate Ramchandra Yadav, who had purportedly brandished a gun at a press conference, ANI reports.
7.51 pm: Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad claims his party colleague MLA Roshan Baig worked against him, News18 reports. “I would request you [Congress] to take appropriate action against Roshan Baig,” Arshad writes in a letter to the All India Congress Committee.
7.30 pm: Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah says MLA Roshan Baig may have criticised the party because he was not given a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls, News18 reports. Baig had said party leaders in Karnataka should be held responsible if the Congress performs poorly in the Lok Sabha elections.
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Congress issues notice to leader for calling Karnataka chief ‘flop show’ after exit polls show loss
7 pm: Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik says party chief Sharad Pawar is playing a key role in the formation of an alternative regime, News18 reports. “Pawar has repeatedly made it clear that he was not a claimant for the prime minister’s post given his party’s limited strength,” Malik says.
6.45 pm: Former Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat says electronic voting machines cannot be tampered with, ANI reports. “EVM security protocol is so strict whenever a strong room has to be opened, representatives of all political parties have to be there, machines are taken out in their presence and a mock poll is also conducted,” says Rawat.
6.30 pm: Union Minister and BJP candidate Giriraj Singh says there is no place for violence in a democracy, News18 reports. His comment is a response to Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha remark that the people of Bihar and his party’s allies in the Opposition alliance should protect votes even if they have to pick up arms to do so.
“This is the voice of frustration,” Singh says.
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Upendra Kushwaha exhorts people to pick up weapons if attempts are made to manipulate results
5.30 pm: Union Minister Sadananda Gowda says the Congress-Janata Dal (United) coalition in Karnataka will collapse after the Lok Sabha poll results are announced, News18 reports. “Kumaraswamy will be the chief minister of Karnataka till tomorrow evening only,” Gowda says.
4.32 pm: BJP President Amit Shah says the opposition to electronic voting machines is disrespect to the mandate of the people. “The demand by 22 Opposition parties to change the electoral process is totally unconstitutional because such a decision is not possible without the consensus of all the parties,” Shah says.
4.14 pm: Congress condemns killing of Arunchal Pradesh lawmaker Tirong Aboh and his family. “We strongly condemn the brutal assassination of Arunachal Pradesh MLA Tirong Aboh along with 10 others by the militants,” the party tweets. “Our condolence to the family and friends. Stringent action against the perpetrators and justice for the victims is the need of the hour.”
4.09 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah questions Opposition parties decision to allege efficacy of electronic voting machines. “The people who are questioning the credibility of electronic voting machines have won elections where the machines were used at some time or the other,” Shah tweets. “If they do not believe in the efficacy of the machines, why did these parties take the responsibility of governance when they won the elections.”
3.49 pm: Union Minister and BJP’s Amritsar candidate Hardeep Singh Puri says there is a pro-incumbency environment towards the saffron party. “Why blame the EVMs,” Puri says referring to the Opposition parties’ demands on the matter. “I have all along said that it is for the first time that a government has gone to the people on a positive agenda. It asked for votes for what it has done for the people.”
3.08 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) says Election Commission’s rejection of demands raised by Opposition parties is unfortunate. “A step could have been taken to ensure transparency and trust in the counting process,” the party tweets.
2.55 pm: Bhopal Collector S Khade says all counting agents, polling agents and candidates will be frisked before they are allowed to enter the area on counting day, ANI reports. “[There is three-tier security present at EVM strong room,” Khade says. “Movement of EVMs and counting will be conducted in the presence of police personnel and under CCTV surveillance.”
2.44 pm: Former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan says the BJP is confident about winning the Lok Sabha polls. “Narendra Modi will become prime minister,” Chauhan tweets. “The BJP will get a landslide victory. The Opposition is trying to find a way to avoid defeat before counting.”
2.30 pm: CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury says integrity of EVMs by matching with sample VVPATs must be done at the start of the counting. “Doing so after the trends are declared makes it infructuous and is likely to lead to protests and a possible law and order situation from the affected candidates,” he tweets.
2.23 pm: BJP’s Prakash Javadekar says Opposition parties raising doubts about EVMs means they don’t trust people and are making excuses, reports PTI. “EVM boxes are sealed in front of them, opened in front of them...it’s all videographed...the EC conducts a perfect poll of 900 million people,” he adds.
1.53 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi asks party workers to be alert, and not get disappointed by fake exit polls.
1.44 pm: Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily alleges that exit polls predicting a comfortable win for NDA are trying to boost the stock market and disrupt Opposition unity, reports PTI. “It must have been done with some ulterior motive,” he says. “Number one is to project the stock market...people have gained between Rs 4.5 lakh crore to Rs five lakh crore.”
1.31 pm: The Election Commission rejects Opposition’s demand of more VVPAT verification, say reports.
1.19 pm: Chikkaballapura Congress MLA K Sudhakar questions why the issue of EVM manipulation is being brought into conversation while talking about the exit poll results.
1.17 pm: The Congress says the Election Commission’s decision to reject commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s demand of including dissent notes in the final orders by the poll panel is a “constitutional travesty”. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweets: “ECI wants to set a new precedent of ‘dark secrets’ & ‘secluded chambers’ in doing its constitutional duties. If CEC [chief election commissioner] can’t play fair in its functioning, can it play fair in ensuring a free & fair election?”
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Congress calls EC’s decision to not make dissenting views public a ‘constitutional travesty’
1.09 pm: The Supreme Court grants protection from arrest for five days to Arjun Singh, the BJP’s candidate from Barrackpore constituency in West Bengal, reports Bar and Bench.
12.55 pm: Union minister Smriti Irani says the Lok Sabha elections were a fight between the people and the opposition. She thanks voters for their blessings, and praises Bharatiya Janata Party workers for their work during the seven-phase elections.
11.59 am: Congress leader Udit ahaj asks if the Supreme Court is also involved in rigging the elections. “Why doesn’t the Supreme Court want to have all VVPAT slips counted?” he tweets. “Is it also involved in the wrongdoing? If all govt work is stalled due to election process for about three months, then how does it matter if counting takes 2-3 extra days?”
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VVPAT verification: ‘Is Supreme Court also involved in rigging?’ asks Congress leader Udit Raj
11.54 am: A Delhi court reserves its order for June 7 on a complaint seeking direction to the police to register an FIR against Congress President Rahul Gandhi for alleged derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, reports PTI.
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Delhi court reserves order on plea seeking FIR against Rahul Gandhi for offensive comment about Modi
11.52 am: The Supreme Court agrees to hear a plea of Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Arjun Singh who sought protection from arrest in “political cases” lodged against him at 12.30 pm today, reports PTI. Singh, who contested from the Barrackpore seat in West Bengal, claims he was implicated by the West Bengal Police. The court also takes note of the violence in West Bengal during the Lok Sabha elections.
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SC to hear BJP candidate Arjun Singh’s plea seeking protection from arrest in West Bengal
10.58 am: Former BJD leader Baijayant Jay Panda says the BJP will keep an open mind about alliances. “My Party president has said that we are confident of getting more than 300 seats,” he tells ANI. “We’ll form the govt with NDA allies. If other parties seeing the national mood want to also join in, I think, BJP will keep an open mind.”
10.54 am: NCP leader and former Maharashtra minister Jaydutt Kshirsagar will join Shiv Sena today, reports ANI.
10.52 am: Opposition parties beef up vigil on strongrooms where EVMs are kept ahead of the counting of votes, reports NDTV.
10.37 am: Re-polling under way at booth No. 200 in North Kolkata constituency.
8.54 am: Election Commission sets up a 24-hour EVM control room at Nirvachan Sadan to monitor complaints related to EVMs during counting, reports NDTV.
8.52 am: BJP Kerala unit president PS Sreedharan Pillai says the party will sue and prosecute CPM’s Thomas Isaac for his defamatory statement. “I have claimed Rs 10 crore as compensation besides seeking criminal prosecution against Isaac,” Pillai tells ANI.
On May 6, Isaac had alleged that Pillai is making use of his position as BJP state president to stall development in Kerala. “Sreedharan Pillai, who tried to disrupt development of National Highway in Kerala, should be treated as a public enemy of state.” Issac had said.
8.45 am: Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti says the silence of the Election Commission is worrying. “Worrying that despite solid evidence about EVMs being switched, Election Commission hasn’t clarified any of these concerns,” she tweets. “A farcical wave backed by dubious exit polls followed by manipulating EVMs is another Balakot in the making.”
8.25 am: The Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh plans to reopen a murder case from 2007 in which Bharatiya Janata Party’s Pragya Singh Thakur is among the accused, reports PTI. Thakur and seven others were acquitted in the case, which pertains to the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker Sunil Joshi, due to lack of evidence.
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Madhya Pradesh plans to reopen 2007 murder case in which Pragya Thakur was accused
8.23 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets leaders of his ruling alliance and expresses concerns over the doubts raised by the Opposition parties about electronic voting machines, reports PTI. After the meeting on Tuesday evening, Home Minister Rajnath Singh tells reporters that Modi had called it a “needless controversy”.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls Opposition’s doubts over EVMs a ‘needless controversy’
8.20 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday:
- Representatives of 21 Opposition parties reiterated their demands related to the electronic voting machines and voter verified paper audit trail slips to the Election Commission. The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the Opposition for raising such doubts, and urged it to accept defeat with grace.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Tuesday met leaders of National Democratic Alliance allies and ministers to “thank them for their service to the nation”.
- The Election Commission of India decided on Tuesday that dissenting views in cases of Model Code of Conduct violations would not be made public, PTI reported. The commission said dissent notes will only be included in internal files, which has been the practice.
- Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha on Tuesday said the people of Bihar and his party’s allies in the Opposition alliance should protect votes even if they have to pick up arms to do so, ABP News reported. He was addressing a press conference in Patna after Opposition parties alleged attempts were being made to manipulate Lok Sabha election results to favour the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.
- The Bahujan Samaj Party on Tuesday suspended its senior leader and former Uttar Pradesh minister Ramvir Upadhyay for “anti-party activities”, PTI reported. He has also been removed as the party’s chief whip in the state Assembly, said party General Secretary Mewalal Gautam.