Lucknow: The sealed electronic voting machines (EVMs) that hold the fate of numerous candidates in those parts of north India`s Uttar Pradesh state where polling is complete have to contend with a new threat to their safety.
Panic ensued in the state`s Hardoi town on Saturday when security personnel guarding a strong room, where machines used during polling in the Sarojini Nagar and Mohanlalganj constituencies were kept, noticed water seeping out from under the door.
Investigation revealed that an overhead tank atop the building was the cause of the leakage.
"There is a water tank atop this building, where an overflow took place. There is no sign of seepage on the outer walls, there is a little water that went inside. There has been no harm to the EVMs, so there is no cause for worry," said District Magistrate Anil Sagar.
Sagar added that since the machines were placed 4 inches above the ground in sealed boxes, they were not reached by the water.
"EVMs are kept 4 inches above the ground in a standing position. The flow of water was very weak, so the machines were not harmed," he said.
The District Magistrate, however, refused mediapersons entry inside the building.
Hardoi had earlier faced a similar scare on Friday, when another strong-room was found to be infested with rats.
The strong-room used is part of a granary, which explains the high numbers of the rodents.
Additional District Magistrate Rakesh Mishra told reporters that the locks sealing the EVMs` boxes would be reinforced with steel mesh.
"There are many rats here, which we fear may bite through the seals, so we are wrapping steel mesh to keep the seals safe," Mishra said.
Candidates threatened with potential damage to their poll prospects were livid at the reports.
"The responsibility rests with the district administration, in case of any EVM being found tampered with at the time of counting, either by rats or anyone else," said Sukhsagar Mishra, a federal ruling Congress party candidate.
Uttar Pradesh has voted for five out of seven phases, with the last two phases scheduled for February 28 and March 03 respectively.
The results will be declared on March 06.