The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its rivals on Monday protested against voting machines failing in by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, with one government official blaming heat for the glitches and the Election Commission denying “large scale” problems.
By-elections to four Lok Sabha and ten assembly seats across India began at 7am, and soon reports of electronic voting machines (EVM) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) failing in Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly seats of Uttar Pradesh began coming in.
Read: Live updates of by-elections in 10 Lok Sabha, assembly seats
Tabassum Hasan, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate backed by four other Opposition parties in Kairana, wrote a letter to the Election Commission and alleged there were “continuous complaints” of EVM and VVPAT machines not working in most polling booths.
“Most of the complaints of technical glitches are coming from Dalit- and Muslim-dominated areas. BJP leaders are adopting every tactic to stop my victory but people will foil their plans. Voters are being denied their rights but nobody is listening to our complaints,” said Hasan, who listed places where more than 150 EVMs allegedly failed.
Devendra Singh, BJP leader in charge of Kairana election, rejected the allegations. “The allegation of opposition parties that BJP is tampering EVMs is baseless. It seems to be a technical problem,” said Singh.
He claimed that EVMs at more than a hundred booths in places dominated by BJP supporters failed. “The party has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India as well as the state election commission,” Singh said.
Kunwar Bahadur Singh, additional district magistrate of Shamli, said VVPAT machines attached to EVMs developed snags because of heat. “In many booths, polling staff placed the machines near windows exposing them to the sun. Faulty machines were replaced,” he said.
Over 43% polling was recorded till 4 pm in Kairana and 57% in Noorpur till 5pm.
SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said 140 EVMs were tampered with in Noorpur. “The BJP wants to avenge its defeat in the earlier bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phoolpur anyhow and win the ongoing polls,” he said.
RLD spokesperson Sunil Rohta blamed the BJP for the EVMs. “It seems to be an attempt to keep voting percentage low in Muslim, Dalit and Jat- dominated areas where people are rallying behind Tabassum Hasan,” he said.
BJP MLA Kapil Deo Agarwal rejected the allegations of opposition parties . “BJP candidate Mriganka Singh will win the election with a good margin,” he said.
“News reports surfacing in the media alleging ‘large scale’ failure of EVMs and VVPATs in the ongoing by-elections and interruption of poll in the States of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are an exaggerated projection of reality,” said the Election Commission in a press statement after reports of problems in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, where bypolls were held for two Lok Sabha seats.