In the ongoing bypolls to four Lok Sabha seats and 10 assembly constituencies in across 10 states, there have been multiple reports of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) malfunctioning. While the opposition parties are alleging Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) hand in the EVM errors, the BJP has asked the Election Commission to extend the voting time to make up for the lost time.
EC officials have said that they are looking into the demand. "Encountered problems and panic in the initial hours but nothing untoward has happened after 12 pm. The new machines are working properly. We are in consultation with Central Election Commission about the extension of voting time," Dr Prashant Narnaware Returning Officer in Palghar by-poll said.
Attacking the BJP in the important Kairana seat, the NCP leader Praful Patel said: "In many big European nations, election commissions have rejected the EVMs and gone back to ballot paper system. SP leader Akhilesh Yadav ji just called me up, he also said 300 EVMs not working in Kairana bypoll."
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate for Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll has written to the EC complaining about the faulty EVMs. "Machines are being tampered everywhere, faulty machines haven't been replaced in Muslim and Dalit dominated areas. They (BJP) think they can win polls like this. That won't happen," RLD's Tabassum Hasan said.
Opposition Samajwadi Party and RLD have complained of snags in EVM machines. "Getting reports of problems in EVMs in the by-election but still voters should go for casting votes), SP president Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet. SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary charged that 140 EVMs have been tampered with in Noorpur and similar reports have also come in from Kairana. "BJP wants to avenge defeat in earlier bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur anyhow and win these by polls," Chaurdhary said.
RLD spokesman Anil Dubey said there are reports of EVM malfunctioning in both the constituencies, specially in areas where the RLD-SP have influence. "We (RLD and SP) are going to meet the CEO to lodge a formal complaint in this regard," Dubey said.
In Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypolls in Maharashtra too, opposition parties have alleged EVM malfunctioning. Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader and former MP Prakash Ambedkar said around 450 EVMs malfunctioned.
Bahujan Vikas Aghadi leader Hitendra Thakur also alleged that "the entire election commission machinery is working on behalf of the BJP in Palghar." Thakur claimed that there were phone calls from the office of a local BJP functionary in Palghar to housing societies about making arrangements for snacks and refreshments for member-voters.