EVM Irregularity? Poll Official Brushes Off Bhupesh Baghel’s Allegation

EVM Irregularity? Poll Official Brushes Off Bhupesh Baghel's Allegation

New Delhi:

Congress allegations about a mismatch in the numbers of stored Electronic Voting Machine units have been rubbished by the Chief Electoral Officer of Chhattisgarh. On the issue raised by former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel — and highlighted by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on social media — the Chief Electoral Officer said it was “not based on facts”.

“The alleged mismatch in EVMs number shared with the INC candidate of Rajnandgaon PC, is not based on facts. The EVMs used during polls are exactly according to the list of machines shared by Returning Officer after randomization with contesting candidates,” read his response posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Posting a long chart on X, Mr Baghel had said, “According to the information given in Form 17C after the voting in my constituency Rajnandgaon, the numbers of many machines have changed”.

“The booths where the numbers have been changed affect thousands of votes. Similar complaints have been received from many other Lok Sabha constituencies. We are complaining to the State Election Officer,” read a rough translation of his post in Hindi.

His post was shared by Jairam Ramesh, with a comment, which read, “This matter is being raised immediately before the Election Commission. It is hoped that the Election Commission will take action quickly”.

Earlier today, Mr Ramesh had faced a rebuff from the poll body, which refused to give him more time to provide evidence to back up his allegation that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called up and intimidated 150 district officers. He was asked to file a reply by 7 pm.

The Opposition’s complaints about EVMs have drawn many jeers from the BJP camp over the years. The BJP alleges that it is the Opposition’s favourite way of explaining their defeat. The party also pointed out that the Opposition does not complain about EVMs when they win.

Electronic Voting Machines, a key grouse of the Opposition, have received full support from the Supreme Court, which said a firm no to a return to ballot papers. The hearing took place as the elections were on.

The Opposition has questioned the security at EVM storage units. Amid polls, Opposition leader Supriya Sule alleged that CCTV cameras at an EVM strongroom in Maharashtra was switched off for about 45 minutes. The Returning Officer for the constituency said only the “display was temporarily closed”, without citing reasons.

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