EVM row: Election Commission shifts 19 MP officials

The Asian Age.  | Rabindra Nath Choudhury With Agency Inputs

India, Politics

Poll panel to send high-level team after reports of ‘pro-BJP’ machine.

The EC also sought a detailed report and decided to send a team of top officials to MP.

Bhopal/New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday shifted 19 officials in Madhya Pradesh, a day after an EVM malfunctioned during an official media demonstration ahead of Assembly byelections in the state, giving fresh ammo to the non-NDA parties to press their demand for ballot paper voting.

A video purportedly catching poll officials, including chief election officer of MP Saleena Singh, off guard following the EVM malfunctioning in Bhind on Friday went viral on social media, prompting the Congress and the Aam Admi Party to move the EC again to do away with EVMs in elections.

Those transferred on the EC’s orders include Bhind collector T. Illeya Raja and SP Anil Singh. The EC also sought a detailed report and decided to send a team of top officials to MP.

The Congress said the paper trail attached to the EVM generated a slip, known as voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), bearing the BJP’s lotus symbol when the CEO had pressed the button for Samajwadi Party candidate during the demo.

VVPAT is a machine, which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box and the voter cannot take it home.

However, Ms Singh, an IAS officer of 1986 batch, debunked charges of EVM malfunctioning, saying that the EVM was not fully calibrated.

“Such things do not happen in fully calibrated machines. They (journalists) misrepresented the facts without trying to understand the whole issue”, she told the media here.

By-elections to Ater and Bandhabgarh seats are scheduled to be held on April 9.

“The EC has decided to depute a team of high-level officers led by Bhanwar Lal, chief electoral officer of Andhra Pradesh, to supervise the by-elections in MP,” the poll panel said.

“The integrity of the EVMs and the VVPATs to be used in the poll will be demonstrated to the complete satisfaction of all stakeholders by the team. This team will remain in the assembly constituency till the counting is over,” it said in a statement.

“We have been repeatedly saying that EVMs are being tampered with at a large scale. The MP incident shocked everyone and raised a question whether elections are being conducted in a fair manner,” Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said.