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Indian oppn deplores EVM tampering

Indian oppn deplores EVM tampering

It's baseless, says EC

NEW DELHI, May 21: A severely condemned Election Commission of India (ECI), on Tuesday, responding to the reports and allegations of manipulation of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the strong rooms in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and other parts of the country, has described these as baseless and frivolous. The Election Commission (EC) held a meeting on Tuesday over the allegations. "In the meeting of the Commission held today, it was inter alia decided that the proceedings of the Commission meeting would be drawn including views of all members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/rules etc." said the EC after the meeting, reports the Statesman. "Complaints of alleged movement of EVMs, purportedly to replace polled EVMs in strong rooms, are doing rounds in sections of media. We would like to unambiguously clarify that the reports are absolutely false. Visuals seen going viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls. "The aspersions in clips being used in media merely pertain to the storage or movement of reserve unused EVMs. However, any case of lapse, even in the handling of reserve EVMs, is thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action taken against the officers responsible," said the Election Commission. Several video clips have been shared on social media that show transportation of the EVMs in trucks and lorries without any security. There also were reports of EVM manipulation from Ghazipur, Chandauli, Domariaganj, Jhansi and Mau in Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, the RJD shared pictures of voting machines allegedly being transported in a vehicle in Saran. On Monday night, BSP candidate Afzal Ansari sat on a protest outside the strongr oom in Ghazipur where EVMs are being kept to prevent them from being transported out in a vehicle. In a video of the incident, Ansari and his supporters were seen engaged in a heated argument with a police officer. "EVMs are being shifted out and probably replaced. None of the candidates were informed of the movement of EVMs. I am not going anywhere now because this is a clear attempt to resort to malpractices before counting," he was quoted as saying by IANS. In Mirzapur, Congress candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi has sent a letter to the poll observer questioning the presence of reported additional EVMs in the strong room. The opposition parties have been complaining about EVM malfunctioning and demanding the use of ballot papers from even before the start of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The opposition parties had also filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Election Commission, to increase VVPAT verification from five to at least 50 per cent of EVMs during the counting of votes in the General Elections. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had launched a bitter attack on the EC after the conclusion of the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday, accusing the poll body of surrendering to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. EC's capitulation before PM Modi and his gang is obvious, said Rahul, adding that the Election Commission is no longer feared and respected. Day after lauding the Election Commission for "perfectly" conducting the Lok Sabha polls, former President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday, expressed his "concern" at reports of alleged tampering of the EVMs saying that the "onus of ensuring institutional integrity lies with the poll body and it must do so and put all speculations to rest". Mukherjee said the safety and security of EVMs which is in the custody of the ECI is the responsibility of the Commission. He further said there can be no room for speculations that challenge the very basis of democracy. "People's mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt," the former president said in a statement. "A firm believer in our institutions, it is my considered opinion that it is the 'workmen' who decide how the institutional 'tools' perform," he added. At a book launch on Monday, Pranab Mukherjee hailed the poll body for "perfectly" conducting the polls even as the opposition criticised the Election Commission of acting under pressure from the BJP government. "If democracy has succeeded, it is largely due to perfect conduct of elections by Election Commissioners starting from Sukumar Sen to the present Election Commissioners," he was quoted as saying by IANS at a book launch in the national capital. His remarks come at a time when the Election Commission is being heavily criticised by both the opposition and the ruling government. The opposition has accused the poll body of surrendering to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. PM Modi was given a clean chit in three cases, while party president Amit Shah was let off in one incident of violation of the model code of conduct during election campaigns. Pranab Mukherjee said all the three Commissioners are appointed by the executive and they are doing their job well. Reports have been circulating on alleged transportation of EVMs from strongrooms in Uttar Pradesh. However, the EC has dismissed the reports as "baseless".

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