Mumbai, July 25 (IANS) Maharashtra Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar on Tuesday directed the state government to make a statement on the alleged ‘fraud’ in an EVM machine during the Buldhana Zilla Parishad elections on February 16.
The direction came after Congress member Sanjay Dutt raised the matter in the house after reports of the EVM “malfunctioning” was exposed through an RTI query last week.
The EVM “malfunction” was first highlighted by IANS on July 22 and since then erupted into a major controversy six months after the local body elections.
Citing the RTI response furnished by the Buldhana collectorate to activist Anil Galgali, Dutt said that it was found and confirmed by the election officer that the votes cast for Independent candidate Asha Zore with symbol coconut were getting transferred and registered in favour of her Bharatiya Janata Party rival.
“This incident proves that EVMs can be manipulated and, in fact, confirms several complaints received from across the state in local bodies elections that votes polled by other candidates were being registered in favour of BJP candidates,” Dutt said.
Galgali said that the Buldhana collectorate’s election department had told him in their reply that that at polling station No. 56 in Sultanpur of Lonar town, when the voter pressed the Independent candidate’s symbol, the LED lamp flashed against the BJP candidate’s lotus symbol, signifying that the vote had gone to the latter.
Later, the Buldhana Collectorate attempted to downplay the incident and termed it as a technical glitch in one of the EVMs which led to cancellation of that day’s poll and a repoll after five days on February 21.
Dutt however claimed that in the past, the state government and State Election Commission had ignored these complaints and attempted to push them under the carpet instead of conducting a detailed investigation into them.
According to Dutt, the Buldhana EVM fraud has raised doubts about the local body poll verdict and dented the credibility of the expected free, fair, and transparent process of elections, which is the essence of the country’s democratic polity.
The Congress leader also expressed shock and surprise that the SEC did not even care to submit a report of this serious incident to the Election Commission.