Oppn parties, Sena target BJP over faulty EVMs

Opposition parties Congress, NCP, Bharipa Bahujan Mahajan and BJP’s alliance partner Shiv Sena — that is part of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and runs the government in Maharashtra, raised doubts over electronic voting and suggested paper ballot. PTI file photo

As reports of faulty EVMs and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines surfaced during the crucial by-elections to the Palghar and Bhandara Gondiya Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, Opposition parties and Shiv Sena targeted the BJP on Monday.

Opposition parties Congress, NCP, Bharipa Bahujan Mahajan and BJP’s alliance partner Shiv Sena — that is part of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and runs the government in Maharashtra, raised doubts over electronic voting and suggested paper ballot.

The issue has further strained the relations between the two saffron alliance partners.

“At one point of time booth capturing used to take place during elections…we know of Bihar…now you have the key of voting machines,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, adding that there has been several reports of faulty Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Palghar district.

Raut said he was not really surprised as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had spoken about “saam, daam, dand and bhed” (all means and methods) to win the crucial bypolls.

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel said it was shocking that 20 to 25% EVMs were faulty in the Bhandra Gondiya constituency. “I have been told that because of heat, these malfunctioned. If that is so, it would have an impact on the results,” he said.

According to him, developed countries like the United States, Germany, France and Japan, have stopped the use of EVMs and they have reverted to ballot papers. “Moreover, when electronic machines were available in Maharashtra, why these were brought from Surat in Gujarat from places were the BJP won,” he wanted to know.

“I have information that 450 EVMs have failed in Bhandara Gondiya,” said Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh founder Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

In Palghar, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi leader Hitendra Thakur too raised the issue of faulty EVMs. “Most of the EVMs which failed were in our strongholds. Besides, what was the need to bring in VVPAT from Surat in Gujarat,” he asked.

“As many as 250 EVMs going out of order in two constituencies is something suspicious,” said state Congress president Ashok Chavan.

Bhandara collector Abhimanyu Kale and his Palghar counterpart Prakash Narnaware, however, said that wherever there has been a faulty EVM or VVPAT, it has been replaced.

It may be recalled, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had released an audio clip in which Fadnavis was purportedly heard exhorting the BJP party workers to use “saam, daam, dand and bhed” (all means and methods) to win the crucial bypolls.

Fadnavis dismissed saying it was “pruned”, “edited” and “tampered” version of his speech.

However, the Shiv Sena has demanded that the Election Commission (EC) must act against him.

DH News Service

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Oppn parties, Sena target BJP over faulty EVMs

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