Protests broke out in some parts of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday after videos of alleged movement and tampering of EVMs went viral on social media, a charge dismissed by the Election Commission as “frivolous” and “unfounded”.
As the videos went viral, workers of various parties held protests in Ghazipur, Chandauli and Dumariyaganj alleging that EVMs were being “moved around” outside strongrooms.
A video clip of EVMs being off-loaded and put in a room inside the counting centre complex in Chandauli was doing the rounds on social media. BJP’s state unit president Mahendra Nath Pandey is seeking re-election from the seat.
Another video is from Ghazipur where SP-BSP alliance candidate Afzal Ansari is seen staging protest alleging that the administration was trying to change EVMs.
In the video, Ansari and his supporters were seen having a heated exchange with a police officer. The officer is urging them to clear the area, but the leader and his supporters refuse to budge, claiming there was an attempt to take out a vehicle loaded with EVMs.
Afzal Ansari is the brother of don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is serving sentence in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda jail in connection with various criminal cases and is pitted against Union Minister Manoj Sinha of the BJP.
Ansari also demanded that at least two BSP workers must be issued passes to sit near the premises where EVMs were kept in strong rooms at five different places.
Chief Electoral Officer of the state Venkateshwarlu allayed fears of political parties.
Referring to the Ghazipur incident, he said the candidate wanted more people to keep a watch on EVMs on the basis of his apprehensions and the DM there has satisfied him and those staging protest have returned.
On Chandauli, he said the issue pertains to unused EVMs which had been brought back and after talks, they were kept separately from the used ones kept in the strong room.
There are CCTV cameras installed in strong rooms. Candidates are allowed to keep a watch on strong rooms through their representatives. All apprehensions are unfounded, he said.
“EVMS and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of political party candidates. CCTV cameras are installed … one representative of each candidate is present. The allegations are baseless, an EC report said.
On Chandauli, the EC report said, “Frivolous allegation by some people as EVMs are in proper security and protocol.
The protest took place when additional (reserved) EVMs from the Sakaldiha assembly segment were brought there.
The Commission said all laid down protocols related to the safekeeping of voting machines and paper trail machines after voting were followed.
It said candidates and their representatives have been allowed to watch over strongrooms for which places have been earmarked.
In view of the viral videos, political parties directed their leaders, candidates and workers to remain extra vigilant in all districts where EVMs have been stored.
All opposition parties have issued directives to their district and city units asking their cadres to prepare for counting of votes.
Fearing irregularities during counting of votes, the high command of all opposition parties have asked their cadres not to be lax in maintaining security of strongrooms where electronic voting machines (EVMs) have been kept.