With less than 48 hours to go for the counting of votes polled in the Lok Sabha election, the Election Commission has ordered repoll in one more booth of the Salem Parliamentary constituency on Thursday. The booth No 254 in the panchayat union primary school at K Vadukapatti falls within Edappadi Assembly constituency.
Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar in a release said the EVM in the booth displayed the message ‘unknown mode’ and as such, votes can’t be retrieved during the counting process.
Criticisng the EC’s decision to hold the repoll, the DMK demanded that the Central poll panel initiate an inquiry into the issue.
In a statement here, party organising secretary T K S Elangovan said the Returning Officer’s decision was arbitrary and illegal and warranted the EC’s intervention in the issue. Questioning as to how the RO had come to the conclusion the EVM was defective, he regretted that even the candidates were kept in the dark about the problem till the late evening notification for the repoll.
Strongly condemning the EC’s move, DMDK founder Vijayakant said on April 24, the EVM was changed after polling 345 votes. The booth polled 88.47 per cent votes. Now, the EC had ordered repoll on just 12 hours notice, that too 20 days after the actual polling took place. “Who has complained about the problem about this EVM which has been kept in a sealed room? Are the officials seeing the EVMs? The EC’s decision to conduct repoll has raised many doubts,” he said.
When asked about this view, Praveen Kumar said that at the time of polling, if there was any problem with the EVM, the nature of problem should be noted by the election officials. In this case, the EVM used in this booth showed the message ‘unknown mode’. Since the ECL, which manufactures the EVMs, has reported that the result recorded in the machine can’t be retrieved, the repoll has been ordered,” the CEO clarified.
Already, the EC had conducted repoll in two other booths - one each in Salem and Namakkal constituencies, on May 10 after the EVMs there displayed the message ‘factory mode’. When the EC ordered repoll on May 8, Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa objected to it saying that the EC had ordered repoll after a long gap of 12 days. Stating that the repoll was ordered without even giving a 48 hour notice, Jayalalithaa had pointed out that such delayed actions will raise unnecessary apprehensions about the fair conduct of the poll. Following this, the EC had deferred the repoll from May 8 to May 10.