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EVMs security: Congress delegation meets EC, demands more caution around strong rooms

Senior party leader and treasurer Ahmed Patel offered suggestions to the poll body separately for holding a free and fair counting of votes. 

EVMs security: Congress delegation meets EC, demands more caution around strong rooms

New Delhi: Raising concerns over the security of EVMs, the Congress moved the Election Commission on Saturday, demanding adequate measures to ensure free and fair results during the counting of votes polled in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh elections.

While a delegation of senior Congress leaders met the poll body and raised concerns over the security of EVMs inside strong rooms, party spokesperson Manish Tewari later held a press conference and said Electronic Voting Machines have been found in hotel rooms in Chhattisgarh. He sought a probe into the issue.

Senior party leader and treasurer Ahmed Patel offered suggestions to the poll body separately for holding a free and fair counting of votes. Tewari alleged that the BJP was resorting to malpractice as it feared defeat in these two states.

"Now what were EVMs doing in hotel rooms? After an election is over, an EVM is supposed to be kept in the strong room. Rather than the strong room, it was found in a hotel room. On one hand, the Election Commission says that officers have been suspended, on the other the State Election Commission says EVMs have not been tampered with," he said.

"The fact that they are in an unauthorised place is evidence of tampering itself," he asserted.

Patel suggested to the EC that it should allow representatives of all political parties to accompany officials transporting EVMs to counting centres from strong rooms, cross check if postal ballots were received from eligible voters, review conduct of senior officials in three districts -- Rajnandgaon, Kondagaon and Bilaspur ? and initiate a second round of counting only after completion of the first round.

Earlier Saturday, the Congress delegation which met the EC also alleged that names of voters were deleted in Uttar Pradesh.

Talking to reporters after meeting the Election Commission, AICC's Chhattisgarh in-charge P L Punia said suspicious activities were reported in Dhamtari constituency. He claimed people with laptop computers and mobile phones were seen roaming around strong rooms, where Electronic Voting Machines were kept after polling, on the pretext of repairing the CCTVs.

The party has filed a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer in Raipur regarding this, Punia said.

Congress lawmaker Vivek Tankha claimed there was no electricity in a strong room in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal city for over an hour during which CCTV cameras had also stopped functioning. He claimed that 48 hours after the closing of polls in the state, a school bus bearing no number plate and carrying EVMs had reached the Sagar district collector's office.

"The objective of this was ostensibly to deposit these machines with the office of the collector. These spare EVMs were to be deposited two hours after the polls and not after two days. This happened in the Khuria seat from where the state home minister is contesting the polls," Tankha told reporters.

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi alleged that in Uttar Pradesh's Sarhanpur district there were discrepancies, such as erroneous deletion of names of voters on booth number 44. He said glaring anomalies were found in 98 of 100 forms on this booth and names of people of a particular community were deleted, so they could not vote against the ruling party.

"The Election Commission has assured us that they will look into it," Singhvi said.