Chouhan bats for poll panel in EVM row

Chouhan bats for poll panel in EVM row

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addresses a press conference at his residence, in Bhopal, on Wednesday. PTI

Even a week after the polling for Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh on November 28, the row over alleged mishandling of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) is raging on.

Batting for the Election Commission, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday accused the Congress of trying to defame the constitutional body owing to fear of imminent defeat in the election.

Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh hit back at the chief minister, asking why the ruling party kept mum over malfunctioning of 4,000 EVMs during the polling and subsequent half a dozen incidents of suspicious delay in the deposition of EVMs in the strongrooms in district headquarters.

Talking to newsmen at his residence, the chief minister said the Congress was exerting undue pressure on the administration in sheer desperation by raising the EVM bogey.

He said the BJP too was subjected to the Election Commission’s strict implementation of the model code of conduct but the party never complained about it. “ On the other hand, the Congress is calling into question integrity and fairness of the commission which is extremely unfortunate”.

Since the polling day, alleged mishandling of EVMs has been hogging the headlines in local media with the Congress raising doubts over the state administration’s intentions. The row began after some EVMs from the state home minister’s constituency were brought 48 hours late in the strongrooms in Sagar district. Sudden blackout at the Bhopal strongroom for a one-and-a-half hour caused Congress uproar on the same day.

Incidents of alleged mishandling of EVMs were reported in Satna, Shahdol, Raisen, Khargone, Shujalpur and Anuppur districts too.

Worried over the safety of the EVMs, Congress workers are forced to patrol the strongrooms in all 51 district headquarters in the state. MPCC president Kamal Nath has also lodged a complaint about the EVMs’ alleged vulnerability with the Chief Election Commission in New Delhi.