The Congress candidate from West Bengal’s Baghmundi Assembly constituency alleged in an official complaint on Saturday that CCTV cameras relaying video feed of stored electronic voting machines were switched off for more than an hour. The candidate told Scroll.in that, despite his complaint, the same blackout recurred on Sunday. In response, the Election Commission said on Monday that the disruptions took place due to a technical glitch.
Responding on Twitter to Scroll.in’s report about the candidate’s complaint, the Chief Electoral Office of West Bengal said that the screen used to display the closed circuit television camera footage of the EVM strongroom malfunctioned between 10 am and 11.05 am on April 3 and then again between 9.40 am and 10.30 am on April 4. It added that the CCTV cameras were working even when the screen malfunctioned and that the candidates had been informed about the matter.
The Baghmundi constituency lies in Purulia district. Voting took place here on March 27 during the first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections. The counting of the votes will take place 36 days later on May 2, after the conclusion of all eight voting phases.
On April 3, Congress candidate from Baghmundi, Nepal Chandra Mahata, wrote a letter to the returning officer responsible for the conduct of elections in Purulia district. In the letter, he flagged a CCTV camera stoppage from 10:05 am to 11:05 am in a strongroom where EVMs were stored.
“I feel most uncomfortable to request you to let me know the reason why the CCTV cameras installed before the strong room at Purulia Polytechnic were stopped for a considerable period of time,” he wrote.
Despite his complaint, Mahata alleged there was another blackout in the strongroom on Sunday. “It happened from 9:30 am to 10:30 am,” Mahato told Scroll.in. “This is not the way.”
This controversy over EVM safety comes after Election Commission officials were found transporting a voting machine in a vehicle owned by a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in Assam’s Ratabari constituency on Friday. In response, the commission ordered a repoll as well as suspended four officials.