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Congress delegation meets EC over alleged tampering of EVMs in MP, 'false' claim by Amit Shah

The Congress delegation included Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath and other top leaders of the party.

Congress delegation meets EC over alleged tampering of EVMs in MP, 'false' claim by Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: Despite repeated assurances from the poll panel regarding the safety, security and credibility of Electronic Voting machines (EVMs), the Congress party on Tuesday met the Election Commission officials over the issue in the national capital.

According to ANI, a delegation of Congress leaders led by Kapil Sibal and Madhya Pradesh unit chief Kamal Nath met the Election Commission officials.     

During the meeting, the Congress leaders raised concerns over the alleged tampering of EVMs in during recently held assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and the dramatic midnight arrest of party's Telangana unit chief.

The Congress delegation also accused BJP chief Amit Shah of misleading the electorate in Telangana by claiming that Congress party promised free electricity to mosques and churches but not to temples in its elections manifesto.

The Sibal-led delegation demanded stringent action against the BJP national president for misleading the voters ahead of polling in Telangana.

''We've stated examples before the Election Commission that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being transported using private school buses which don't have a number. They don't have an EVM tracking system. Nobody knows which EVM goes where,'' Sibal said while talking to reporters.

All this happened a day after Madhya Pradesh's top polling officer sought to allay doubts about the security of EVMs kept in strongrooms, saying these machines are safe and put under a three-layered surveillance system backed by CCTV cameras.

The assurance from state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao came after the Congress raised doubts over the security of EVMs which contain the votes cast in the November 28 election for the 230 Assembly seats in the state.

The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), kept in strongrooms across the state, will be opened on December 11 for counting.

"All the machines reached the strongrooms by the morning of November 29. These strongrooms were locked in the presence of candidates, observers and other officials," Rao told reporters here.

He said there is a three-tier security cordon around the strongrooms - central security forces are deployed near the strong room, state armed personnel posted in the second layer and local police are manning the outer layer.

"A security protocol is being followed and nobody, including the returning officer, is allowed to enter with a mobile phone and without due entry in the register. The candidates and their representatives are also allowed to keep watch and tents have been installed for them," he added.

Rao said, "Where the gates of strongrooms are not visible, LED screens were installed so that the candidates and their representatives can watch them (from outside)."

Asked about the late arrival of EVMs at some places, including Sagar and Khargone, Rao said, "Such EVMs were reserved and not used in the polling.

"We have already given the serial numbers of EVMs used in the polling to the candidates and a report in this regard was submitted to the Election Commission of India," Rao said.

These machines were stored separately, he added.

Action has been initiated against 13 officials in connection with complaints, including the late arrival of the reserved EVMs, Rao said. Three officials have been suspended and 10 issued show cause notices, he added.

However, state Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi did not appear satisfied with the CEO's assertion about EVM security.

He said a delegation led by Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath would visit the ECI in New Delhi on Tuesday and convey their doubts about the security of EVMs in the BJP-ruled state.