MP Polls: Election Commission Admits Cameras Blacked-Out In EVM Strongroom For 1 Hr
Madhya Pradesh, the state that recently witnessed the assembly election on November 28, is now witnessing allegations of tampering the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). The opposition has also staged a protest against the security lapses. Amidst the allegation hurled by the opposition the Election Commission on November 1, Saturday admitted that there was a blackout in the strongroom where the EVMs were kept. The power cut was for at least an hour, as reported by the NDTV. However, the Election Commission ensures the safety of EVMs.
According to the Scroll, Election Commission in a tweet confirmed about the power cut. The Commission also said that the EVMs are safe.
Chief Electoral Office has tried to clarify the genuine concerns related to EVM’s on this platform. This office assures the voters of Madhya Pradesh that all EVM’s are safe, secure, sealed. We may not be able to give individual reply but we will try tokeep up the trust of people
— CEOMPElections (@CEOMPElections) December 1, 2018
“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 the failure of electricity supply,” the Election Commission said, according to India Today. It further said that because of the power cut, the recording could not be done during the given time period. The poll body further said, “an additional LED screen, an inverter and a generator have been installed in order to ensure continuous electricity supply.”
What lead to the allegations
In this Madhya Pradesh elections, voter turn out was recorded at 74%, higher than that in 2013. Soon after the state finished its polling, several allegations started floating regarding the EVM tampering in the state. The first controversy of tampering broke out when the EVMs reached the collection centre in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district, two days after the voting ended, as reported by the NDTV.
Reportedly, the EVMs were kept at a police station in Khurai city area. The Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhupendra Singh is the BJP legislator of the area. According to the DNA, the Congress has also alleged that the EVMs were taken to a hotel owned by BJP’s Bhupendra Singh.
Soon after this, on Friday, hundreds of agitated Congress workers protested outside the collection centre. They demanded an inquiry to check what made this delay and also urged for action against officials involved. The protestors also alleged that the ruling BJP is trying to manipulate the results of the polls. The opposition also shared videos on Twitter of EVMs being carried in a bus claiming the EVMs were not ‘reserved’. The authenticity of these videos have not been confirmed.
This is absolutely shocking! pic.twitter.com/XJr8n3SdRp
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) December 1, 2018
Sensing a defeat in Madhya Pradesh & Chattisgarh, some are indulging in desperate measures by attempting to tamper with EVM’s in strong rooms
Urge the EC to investigate & take concrete action pic.twitter.com/y7QMD3MKqd
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) December 1, 2018
Commission denies EVM tampering
While the Congress is accusing the BJP of wrongdoing, the Chief Electoral Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh has come up with a clarification. While rejecting all the charges put by the Congress, he said, “These are EVMs kept as ‘Reserve’ stationed at some Police stations, to be used as a replacement for malfunctioning machines during the poll. Such machines were to be stored separately from polled EVMs. Strongroom having Polled EVMs was neither opened nor was supposed to be opened.” He further said that all the EVMs have a unique number code for it, which have been shared by the political parties. He added, “The numbers of reserved EVM’s have been checked by political parties in Sagar districts. Their numbers are different,” as reported by the NDTV.
While talking about the EVMs reaching 48 hours late to the strongrooms, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V L Kantha Rao said that all the machines had reached the strongrooms by the morning of November 29 the very next day to the polling, as reported by the NDTV. He also said that the EVMs were properly locked in the presence of candidates, observers and other officials inside the strongrooms. He maintained that all these strongrooms were equipped with three-tier security which included, central security forces being deployed near the strong room, then the state armed personnel in the second layer and third layer manned by the local police.
However, Congress seems to be still in doubt. State Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said, “Our doubts are still not clear. It is still not clear how EVMs reached as late as 48 hours in Sagar, Khargone and a few other places.” He also raised questions on why 1,500 EVMs were replaced across the state during the polling. He further said that BJP was making efforts to rig the polls.
Another Congress leader PL Punia, who is in charge of the party’s campaign in Chhattisgarh, also alleged that a few people were seen with laptops and mobile phones around the strong rooms where the EVMs were kept. The claimed that those people were there on the pretext of repairing the CCTV. He said that his party has reported about the same to the same to the Raipur chief electoral officer.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, a Congress delegation met the Election Commission in New Delhi to express their concerns about the EVM security lapses.
The developments in MP as EVMs r found in BJP leader owned hotel in Shujalpur, CCTVs not functioning in strong rooms&EVMs recovered in Khurrai raise serious questions. Election Commission needs to address this on a priority. An indicator of BJPs defeat hence these dirty tricks.
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) November 30, 2018
भोपाल में स्ट्रांग रूम के बाहर लगी एलईडी बन्द होना, सागर में गृहमंत्री की विधानसभा सीट की रिजर्व ईवीएम मशीनों का 48 घंटे बाद पहुँचना, सतना-खरगोन में अज्ञात बक्से स्ट्रांग रूम में ले जाने के वीडियो का सामने आना कही ना कही बड़ी साजिश की और इशारा है।
— Jyotiraditya Scindia (@JM_Scindia) December 1, 2018
In the fresh row over EVM, in Madhya Pradesh, an SUV rammed into the boundary wall of a strong room in Satna district. This led to fresh protests by the Congress. Reacting on the row, MP chief electoral officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao said that three officials were suspended for breach of protocol in handling EVMs. On November 30, there were similar reports of wall damage of the same strongroom.
The police officer said that two people identified as Pramod Yadav and Rudra Kushwaha have been arrested in the case. He further stated that until now both have not identified with any political party. The officer also said that the two were in an inebriated condition at the time of the incident.