Uddhav to sue poll official over defeat by 48 votes in Mumbai Northwest seat

“However, when Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Ravindra Waikar started trailing, the RO stopped sharing the data with counting agents.
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray File Photo | PTI

MUMBAI: The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena will move court against the returning officer of the Mumbai Northwest Lok Sabha seat for “illegally” declaring the rival Sena candidate a winner by a mere 48 votes. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Parab alleged that returning officer Vandana Suryawanshi failed to maintain transparency in the counting process. “Everything was fine till the 19th round of counting,” he said.

“However, when Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Ravindra Waikar started trailing, the RO stopped sharing the data with counting agents. Besides, the counting table was kept far away where the counting agents of the candidate were unable to reach to see the details,” said Parab. “A lot of secrecy was maintained which raises suspicion about foul play,” said Parab.

He alleged his party candidate was ahead in EVM counting by a solitary vote. “It was recounted; Kirtikar remained ahead. It was then the returning officer got some phone calls. She looked under pressure and often left the table to speak to someone over the phone,” said Parab. “She did not give us time to raise our concern,” Parab alleged. A controversy has erupted over the alleged hacking of an EVM in the Mumbai Northwest Lok Sabha constituency where Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar was declared elected by a wafer-thin margin.

Suryawanshi has refuted all charges, asserting that an EVM cannot be hacked. “The EVM is a standalone non-programmable device that does not require any mobile OTP to unlock it,” she said. “The EVM has no wireless and non-wireless capability. It is not a communication device. During polling, the result section of EVM gets sealed in front of polling agents. On the counting day, it is unsealed in the presence of counting agents. This is a fool-proof system,” said the returning officer.

Parab, however, said an ECI press note admitted that a mobile set was illegally taken inside booth by breaching the three-tier security system. “It took 10 days to file an FIR against the data operator and Waikar’s relative who was also involved. The police officers on the case have been sent on compulsory leave,” said Parab.

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