MUMBAI: In a peculiar complaint, some residents of Navlewadi village of Koregaon segment of Satara district said votes cast on Monday for any candidate were actually going to the BJP’s account.
Election Commission officials, however, stated that while agents of political parties complained orally about it, when they were asked to file a complaint in the prescribed format, they backed off. So no complaint was registered and the voting went off peacefully.
According to some villagers, who spoke to news channels, the problem was noticed at around 11 am on Monday when around 200 voters had already cast their votes.
However, according to Kirti Nalawade, the returning officer for the Koregaon Assembly segment, the NCP representatives Deepak Pawar and Dilip Wagh, who were present at 5.30 am during testing of the machines, didn’t complain of any such issue. She also said that none of the voters too raised the issue with her between 7 am and 4 pm when the voting went on peacefully.
“Deepak Pawar raised the issue in the afternoon. However, he declined to register his complaint in prescribed format and the voting continued peacefully even after,” the officer said, adding that there was no truth in the complaint.
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NCP legislator Shahshikant Shinde, however, said he was witness to such a thing happening when he visited the polling booth in Navlewadi village of Koregaon Tehsil in Satara district.
He said the Election Commission should take a serious note of this incident and initiate steps to check its recurrence.
Shinde said when he reached the polling station and raised the issue with the election officials from the booth, they hurriedly changed the EVM machine.
Shinde said as some voters had expressed their doubts, the NCP polling booth agents asked the officials to verify the claims.
“Meanwhile, one person came there to cast his vote. Before he could press the button, the red light next to the BJP's Lotus symbol blinked. That voter also noticed this and objected to it, after which the (poll) officials there orally accepted that there was some issue with the machine,” Shinde said.
He said the officials told party agents and voters to pay a fee for a mock test to clear their doubts.
“I suggested that a voter will cast his vote in the presence of the main poll official there to verify the claims. When one person went to vote, the machine suddenly developed some issue and stopped working,” he added.
“Some officials then checked the machine and informed us that there was some issue with the machine and proposed to replace it. The machine was then replaced,” Shinde said.
He said by the time all this happened, 293 votes were cast and officials refused to accept the demand by the polling agents and voters for fresh polling.
“We replaced the machine not because of their claims but because there was some issue with the pressing of the button. The replacement has nothing to do with these claims,” the poll official said.
Apart from this issue at Satara, according to reports, around 4,600 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) malfunctions were recorded during the voting in the Maharashtra Assembly elections on Monday. However, the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra Baldev Singh stated that the EC has received only 351 complaints.
“We received 361 complaints, including 151 from the Opposition and 90 from the ruling parties, about the malfunctioning machines. The glitches were fixed within minutes by our officers at the polling stations,” Singh said.
The Congress took the lead in filing complaints on Monday. Congress war room in-charge Avinash Pande said that as many as 227 complaints were registered by the party with the Election Commission or their respective officers and the glitches were fixed accordingly.
“In minority-dominated areas, the EVMs were working slowly. One needs to check if there was any deliberate tampering behind the problem,” Pande said.
In Chandrapur, two persons were caught carrying EVM machines which were later found in a private vehicle.
The incident took place in the Durgapur area of Ballarpur constituency. Maharashtra’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is contesting from this constituency. According to reports, the District Collector said that these were reserve machines.