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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Baghel claims several EVMs 'changed' after polling in Rajnandgaon seat

Senior Congress leader and Chhattisgarh's former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday alleged that several Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT units 'were changed' after polling in the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat, from where he is contesting the elections.
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 02:23 IST
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 02:23 IST

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Raipur: Senior Congress leader and Chhattisgarh's former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Monday alleged that several Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT units 'were changed' after polling in the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat, from where he is contesting the elections.

Baghel claimed the numbers of several EVMs used in the April 26 voting in Rajnandgaon provided by the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not match with details of machines of the booths concerned mentioned in Form 17 C.

However, the returning officer of Rajnandgaon denied any irregularities or mismatch in numbers.

In a post on his X handle on the Lok Sabha poll counting eve, the former CM said, "The Election Commission had given the numbers of the machines which were used in the voting. This includes (numbers of) ballot unit, control unit and VVPAT."

"According to the information mentioned in Form 17 C after the voting in my constituency Rajnandgaon, the numbers of several machines have changed. The booths where the numbers of machines have been changed affect thousands of votes."

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached with the EVMs that allows electors to verify that their votes are cast as intended. When a vote is cast, a slip is printed containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate and remains exposed through a transparent window for 7 seconds. Thereafter, this printed slip automatically gets cut and falls in the sealed drop box of the VVPAT.

Baghel, the Congress candidate from Rajnandgaon, said he has approached the Chhattisgarh's chief electoral officer with his grievances.

"Similar complaints have been received from many other Lok Sabha constituencies. We are complaining to the State Election Officer. @ECISVEEP should answer under what circumstance the machines were changed and who will be responsible for any impact on the election result? The list of changed numbers of machines is very long but a small list is enclosed for your perusal," he added.

Rejecting his allegations, the returning officer of the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat said the complaint was baseless and beyond facts.

"After the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the first randomization of EVMs was done using the software provided by the ECI, and the machines were allotted assembly seat-wise and a list in this regard was provided to the recognized political parties," the returning officer said in a statement.

"The second randomization was done in front of the candidates contesting the elections and a signed list was provided to them. During the commissioning of EVMs, the machines which developed snag were replaced with those kept in reserve and a list of both faulty machines and machines installed in place of them was provided and an acknowledgement was received," said the statement.

The EVMs that malfunctioned during mock poll and actual voting were replaced with machines kept in reserve and its list was also given to all candidates, it said.

At polling stations, in the presence of polling agents of candidates, the machine's number address tag, 'matpatra lekha' 17C part 1, presiding officer's diary, mock poll certificate etc. are recorded in many documents, which can be matched during the counting of votes, said the statement.

"The presiding officer may have committed clerical errors. During the voting, only those machines were used whose list was provided to candidates from time to time. The entire process is completely transparent and agents and representatives of candidates were present at every level and observed it. Polling agents present at polling stations themselves sign various documents after seeing the EVM number," it said.

The returning officer said during vote count, clerical errors can be corrected by comparing the EVMs and documents.

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Published 04 June 2024, 02:23 IST

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