The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has questioned the Election Commission's decision to allegedly bring the same Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to Bhind that were used in the recently concluded Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.
The by-election in Ater Assembly constituency in Bhind district is due to take place on April 9.
During a demonstration of VVPAT machines in Bhind, it was alleged that the machine dispensed only slips of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
As video of the VVPAT demonstration went viral, political parties like the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party asked if EVMs are tamper-proof and if the EC should mull using paper ballots for the Delhi municipal corporation election.
HERE IS WHAT THE CONGRESS HAS TO SAY ON THE VVPAT DEMO CONTROVERSY:
- The officials present during the VVPAT demonstration claimed the machines were reportedly brought from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where Assembly elections had just concluded.
- According to the officials, the slips that came out from the VVPAT machine had Satyadev Pachauri's name on them along with the BJP's symbol.
- Satyadev Pachauri has successfully contested the election from Govind Nagar constituency in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Pachauri is a minister in Yogi Adityanath's cabinet.
- Congress spokesperson K K Mishra called the entire episode a conspiracy and claimed that these machines should ideally not be shifted for at least 90 days as per the law.
- "There is a provision (in law) that says that the data in the voting machine has to be preserved for 90 days so that the same can be presented before a court of law if any candidate decides to challenge the election results," the Congress spokesperson said.
- "The Uttar Pradesh election result was out on March 11 and the demonstration on the VVPAT machine in Bhind was conducted on March 31. So, the larger question is how and why were these machines were allowed to be moved from Kanpur to Bhind," the Congress spokesperson said.
- The Congress has demanded the removal of Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh, accusing her of acting in a partial manner. It has also opposed the appointment of Kiran Gopal as the new collector of Bhind. Gopal's predecessor was removed by the EC following the VVPAT demonstration controversy.
- "The Madhya Pradesh government has fooled the Election Commission by sending the name of Kiran Gopal in the panel. How is he expected to be neutral when he himself is involved in a scam," the Congress spokesperson said.
- The ruling BJP, however, rubbished the charges and said the Congress should refrain from politicising the electoral process.
- "Tampering or no tampering, the Election Commission of India has to look into it. The Congress can question the machine on technical grounds, but should refrain from politicising the electoral process," BJP spokesperson Hitesh Vajpayee said.