New Delhi: Calling the allegations of mishandling of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail Machines) in strongrooms in Uttar Pradesh ‘frivolous’ and ‘baseless’, the Election Commission on Tuesday said that the ‘EVMs were in proper security and protocol was being followed ahead of counting of votes on May 23’.

“Polled EVMs and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of political parties candidates in videography. CCTV cameras are installed. CPAF security is there. Candidates are allowed to have watch on strong room at a time and at a point one representative of each candidate 24 ×7. The allegations are baseless (sic),” the Election Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.

Afzal Ansari, the BSP candidate in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur, sat on a protest outside the strongroom 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 late on Monday 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 said. Afzal Ansari, the SP-BSP alliance candidate is pitted against union minister Manoj Sinha of BJP from Ghazipur.

In Mirzapur, Congress candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi has sent a letter to the poll observer questioning the presence of ‘additional EVMs’ in the strongroom. He has asked the observer to ensure removal of additional EVMs in the presence of all candidates before the counting day. Tripathi is pitted against Union Minister Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal in Mirzapur.

Responding to allegations of EVM rigging in Ghazipur, the Election Commission said, “There was issue regarding “Having watch on polled EVM strong room by the candidates “which was resolved by conveying the ECI instructions (sic).”

The poll panel also dismissed allegations of EVMs rigging in Chandauli. “Frivolous allegation by some people, EVMs were in proper security and protocol,” said the poll panel. On rigging allegations in Domariaganj, the EC said,”EVMs were in proper security and protocol. Agitation was unnecessary. They were convinced by DM and SP. The matter is resolved.”

“EVMs are stored in proper security and protocol in the presence of political parties candidates. No issue,” the EC said on rigging charges in Jhansi.