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EVM security: Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s has accused Uttar Pradesh government of ‘stealing’ EVMs ahead of vote counting on March 10, allies demand removal of DM, commissioner

Karuna John 09 Mar 2022

EVM

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has made serious allegations against the Uttar Pradesh government, accusing it of ‘stealing’ Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), ahead of March10, when the counting of votes cast in the Assembly polls is due to take place. Scores of videos have been shared since March 8 evening showing a truck reportedly loaded with EVMs being caught in Varanasi.

Yadav warned, “Exit polls are creating a perception that BJP is winning... I instruct our party workers to keep a constant vigil on the places where EVMs are kept."

 


The Samajwadi Party, led by Akhilesh Yadav has posed a massive challenge before the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Yogi Adityanath. This appears to have triggered the BJP, whose entire campaign has focused on attacking SP as its Opposition, and accusing it of ‘favouring Muslims’ even though the SP is not in power at the moment. Once the polls closed, it was farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who raised concerns about the possibility of disruptions, or anticipated problems where EVMs were stored. 

Now the SP has levied massive allegations that EVMs were “being stolen from a counting centre” in the Prime Minister’s constituency Varanasi just ahead of the counting of votes. Yadav has accused the government of "theft", and reminded, “In 2017, the BJP's winning margin on nearly 50 seats were less than 5,000 votes.” Citizens were out on the streets of Varanasi till late on March 8 night, demanding that the allegations of EVM theft be investigated. SP workers have also been out on the streets keeping vigil in various parts of the state. 

As soon as the initial videos of some EVMs found in a truck were circulated on social media, Kaushal Raj Sharma the District Magistrate (DM) of Varanasi said these “EVMs were not the ones used for voting and are just being used for ‘hands-on training’”. He did not clarify why ‘hands-on training’ was to be given on the eve of counting day, but has also accused "some political parties" of "spreading rumours".

The Election Commission too backed DM Sharma's explanation and said in an official press release, "As per a probe by the district election officials, it has been found that these EVMs had been marked for training purposes. A training programme has been organised on March 9 for officials who will be part of the vote counting process. That is why the EVMs were being taken from the food godown in Mandi to the training venue in UP College." The entire press release may be read here in Hindi:

Press release

This issue has put the supporters of SP-alliance on high alert, especially in Varanasi. According to Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar he  "doesn't believe a word" of the magistrate's explanation. “Three vehicles left with EVMs covered in gunny sacks. Two vehicles have escaped, somehow one was caught. There are strict guidelines by the EC that if any EVM leaves the strong room, the candidate, district officials are given a notice and EVMs are moved under all [security] force. But they did not do that, they were moved clandestinely, with an intention to change EVMs. Till the DM and Commissioner remain [posted] there the counting will not be done properly, there will be no justice. We have written to the EC that we will not allow counting till they are removed. Let us see what they do. Our job is to say it [raise concern] their job is to implement it.”
 

According to SP state president Naresh Uttam Patel and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary, a complaint has been made to the Election Commission, which has assured them of action. The Samajwadi Party may also file a petition in the High Court on the issue, stated news reports.

The DM maintained that the EVMs that were used in the elections "are all sealed in the strong room in the possession of CRPF and there is CCTV surveillance which is being watched by people of all political parties." DM Sharma said, “Counting workers' second training is scheduled for tomorrow [March 9] at a UP college. 20 EVMs were being taken on a pickup van for hands-on training. It was stopped by some people, and a confusion arose among them if they were polled EVMs. Later a huge crowd gathered. All officers came here, they tried to explain to them but due to the crowd now all candidates and chiefs of political parties have been called for their satisfaction that the EVMs that were being taken, were for training purpose only.” He repeated that the polled EVMs are kept in the strong room and “barricading is done, there is no reason to breach the barricading. There are other strong rooms and godowns for other EVMs (meant for training). Both sets of EVMs are not connected to each other, it's being clarified.”

According to a report in NDTV, he claimed that the EVMs “were going to a local college from the storage area at the Mandi counting centre” and added that the truck carrying 20 EVMs that was seen on the viral video can be checked by anyone, and that “there is CCTV here and all over the campus. Anyone can check that (footage) too, so this matter ends here... These EVMs will not be moved again so that no further controversy is created."

However, Akhilesh Yadav countered this saying, "Now that the EVMs have been caught, the officials will make multiple excuses..." and asked “if there was no suspicious activity, how did two trucks with EVMs escape? You cannot move any EVMs from anywhere without the consent of candidates." He made another serious allegation saying, “We were getting information that a principal Secretary to the Chief Minister was calling District Magistrates, saying 'counting should be slow wherever the BJP is losing'. In the last election, the BJP had won 47 seats with a margin of less than 5,000 votes," the Samajwadi Party chief said. Now that the exit polls are "adding to the perception that the BJP is winning, any theft that may be happening is sidestepped," he said. Meanwhile Samajwadi Party workers confronted senior police officials in Varanasi over allegations of EVMs being transported.

 

 

Most exit polls, have predicted the BJP’s return to the UP Assembly, where the half-way mark is 202. Some polls predicted a thumping majority and landslide victories for the BJP, and others pointed towards a slimmer margin of victory with SP making considerable gains. Yet others are predicting a victory for the Samajwadi Party (SP). Yadav, however, has been confident and tweeted "We are forming government" after the elections ended.

 

 

On Monday, Akhilesh Yadav had written to ECI over misbehaviour with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Varanasi during her visit last week, calling it “a security lapse”. According to SP national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary, “SP national president Akhilesh Yadav has written a letter to the ECI over misbehaviour by BJP workers with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the Varanasi recently, saying that the ECI has not acted on the complaint made to it by the SP earlier.” Akhilesh Yadav, in his letter, also made a reference to the original complaint made by Rajendra Chaudhary on March 4 regarding the incident, stated news reports. Chaudhary said, “Akhilesh Yadav, in the letter, has asked the ECI to immediately decide on those BJP workers and take action against them.”

In that letter, Akhilesh Yadav had stated that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is a Z-plus security protectee, had reached Varanasi on March 2 and when she was in the Lahurabeer area on the way to Dashashwamedh Ghat from the airport, when nearly 60 people armed with “dangerous weapons and lathis” blocked her way and damaged her car," adding that despite Mamata’s security category, only a handful of police personnel were deployed. Yadav had demanded action against the Varanasi administration and those who misbehaved with Banerjee.

 

Related:

Assembly Election Exit Polls: Will media pundits be proved wrong again?

Assembly Elections: Large turnout among women voters

Assembly polls: 40,395 model code of conduct violations lodged with EC 

EVM security: Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s has accused Uttar Pradesh government of ‘stealing’ EVMs ahead of vote counting on March 10, allies demand removal of DM, commissioner

EVM

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has made serious allegations against the Uttar Pradesh government, accusing it of ‘stealing’ Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), ahead of March10, when the counting of votes cast in the Assembly polls is due to take place. Scores of videos have been shared since March 8 evening showing a truck reportedly loaded with EVMs being caught in Varanasi.

Yadav warned, “Exit polls are creating a perception that BJP is winning... I instruct our party workers to keep a constant vigil on the places where EVMs are kept."

 


The Samajwadi Party, led by Akhilesh Yadav has posed a massive challenge before the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Yogi Adityanath. This appears to have triggered the BJP, whose entire campaign has focused on attacking SP as its Opposition, and accusing it of ‘favouring Muslims’ even though the SP is not in power at the moment. Once the polls closed, it was farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who raised concerns about the possibility of disruptions, or anticipated problems where EVMs were stored. 

Now the SP has levied massive allegations that EVMs were “being stolen from a counting centre” in the Prime Minister’s constituency Varanasi just ahead of the counting of votes. Yadav has accused the government of "theft", and reminded, “In 2017, the BJP's winning margin on nearly 50 seats were less than 5,000 votes.” Citizens were out on the streets of Varanasi till late on March 8 night, demanding that the allegations of EVM theft be investigated. SP workers have also been out on the streets keeping vigil in various parts of the state. 

As soon as the initial videos of some EVMs found in a truck were circulated on social media, Kaushal Raj Sharma the District Magistrate (DM) of Varanasi said these “EVMs were not the ones used for voting and are just being used for ‘hands-on training’”. He did not clarify why ‘hands-on training’ was to be given on the eve of counting day, but has also accused "some political parties" of "spreading rumours".

The Election Commission too backed DM Sharma's explanation and said in an official press release, "As per a probe by the district election officials, it has been found that these EVMs had been marked for training purposes. A training programme has been organised on March 9 for officials who will be part of the vote counting process. That is why the EVMs were being taken from the food godown in Mandi to the training venue in UP College." The entire press release may be read here in Hindi:

Press release

This issue has put the supporters of SP-alliance on high alert, especially in Varanasi. According to Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar he  "doesn't believe a word" of the magistrate's explanation. “Three vehicles left with EVMs covered in gunny sacks. Two vehicles have escaped, somehow one was caught. There are strict guidelines by the EC that if any EVM leaves the strong room, the candidate, district officials are given a notice and EVMs are moved under all [security] force. But they did not do that, they were moved clandestinely, with an intention to change EVMs. Till the DM and Commissioner remain [posted] there the counting will not be done properly, there will be no justice. We have written to the EC that we will not allow counting till they are removed. Let us see what they do. Our job is to say it [raise concern] their job is to implement it.”
 

According to SP state president Naresh Uttam Patel and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary, a complaint has been made to the Election Commission, which has assured them of action. The Samajwadi Party may also file a petition in the High Court on the issue, stated news reports.

The DM maintained that the EVMs that were used in the elections "are all sealed in the strong room in the possession of CRPF and there is CCTV surveillance which is being watched by people of all political parties." DM Sharma said, “Counting workers' second training is scheduled for tomorrow [March 9] at a UP college. 20 EVMs were being taken on a pickup van for hands-on training. It was stopped by some people, and a confusion arose among them if they were polled EVMs. Later a huge crowd gathered. All officers came here, they tried to explain to them but due to the crowd now all candidates and chiefs of political parties have been called for their satisfaction that the EVMs that were being taken, were for training purpose only.” He repeated that the polled EVMs are kept in the strong room and “barricading is done, there is no reason to breach the barricading. There are other strong rooms and godowns for other EVMs (meant for training). Both sets of EVMs are not connected to each other, it's being clarified.”

According to a report in NDTV, he claimed that the EVMs “were going to a local college from the storage area at the Mandi counting centre” and added that the truck carrying 20 EVMs that was seen on the viral video can be checked by anyone, and that “there is CCTV here and all over the campus. Anyone can check that (footage) too, so this matter ends here... These EVMs will not be moved again so that no further controversy is created."

However, Akhilesh Yadav countered this saying, "Now that the EVMs have been caught, the officials will make multiple excuses..." and asked “if there was no suspicious activity, how did two trucks with EVMs escape? You cannot move any EVMs from anywhere without the consent of candidates." He made another serious allegation saying, “We were getting information that a principal Secretary to the Chief Minister was calling District Magistrates, saying 'counting should be slow wherever the BJP is losing'. In the last election, the BJP had won 47 seats with a margin of less than 5,000 votes," the Samajwadi Party chief said. Now that the exit polls are "adding to the perception that the BJP is winning, any theft that may be happening is sidestepped," he said. Meanwhile Samajwadi Party workers confronted senior police officials in Varanasi over allegations of EVMs being transported.

 

 

Most exit polls, have predicted the BJP’s return to the UP Assembly, where the half-way mark is 202. Some polls predicted a thumping majority and landslide victories for the BJP, and others pointed towards a slimmer margin of victory with SP making considerable gains. Yet others are predicting a victory for the Samajwadi Party (SP). Yadav, however, has been confident and tweeted "We are forming government" after the elections ended.

 

 

On Monday, Akhilesh Yadav had written to ECI over misbehaviour with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Varanasi during her visit last week, calling it “a security lapse”. According to SP national secretary Rajendra Chaudhary, “SP national president Akhilesh Yadav has written a letter to the ECI over misbehaviour by BJP workers with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the Varanasi recently, saying that the ECI has not acted on the complaint made to it by the SP earlier.” Akhilesh Yadav, in his letter, also made a reference to the original complaint made by Rajendra Chaudhary on March 4 regarding the incident, stated news reports. Chaudhary said, “Akhilesh Yadav, in the letter, has asked the ECI to immediately decide on those BJP workers and take action against them.”

In that letter, Akhilesh Yadav had stated that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is a Z-plus security protectee, had reached Varanasi on March 2 and when she was in the Lahurabeer area on the way to Dashashwamedh Ghat from the airport, when nearly 60 people armed with “dangerous weapons and lathis” blocked her way and damaged her car," adding that despite Mamata’s security category, only a handful of police personnel were deployed. Yadav had demanded action against the Varanasi administration and those who misbehaved with Banerjee.

 

Related:

Assembly Election Exit Polls: Will media pundits be proved wrong again?

Assembly Elections: Large turnout among women voters

Assembly polls: 40,395 model code of conduct violations lodged with EC 

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