Samajwadi party leader Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP’s biggest challenger in recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that electronic voting machines were stolen from a counting center in Varanasi just two days before the counting of the votes. Accusing the government of “stealing”, he pointed out that in 2017 the BJP’s margin of victory in nearly 50 seats was less than 5,000 votes.
While videos of some EVMs in the truck are circulating on social media, the Varanasi District Magistrate said the EVMs were not the ones used for voting and were merely used for “practical training”.
Accusing “certain political parties” of “spreading rumours”, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said the EVMs used in the elections “are all sealed in the vault in the possession of the CRPF and there is CCTV which is monitored by people from all political parties”. The EVMs, he added, traveled to a local college from the Mandi counting center storage area.
Later, Mr Sharma also said that the vehicle carrying 20 EVMs which had been zeroed by the workers “is there” and can be controlled by anyone. “Some people said there were two or three vehicles, but there’s CCTV here and all over campus. Anyone can check that (images) as well, so this case ends here… These EVMs will no longer be moved so that no further controversy is created,” he added.
Appearing before the media, Akhilesh Yadav, however, strongly countered this claim.
“If there was no suspicious activity, how did two trucks with EVMs get away? You cannot move any EVMs from anywhere without the consent of the candidates,” he said. declared.
“We were getting reports that a principal secretary to the chief minister was calling the district magistrates, saying ‘the count should be slow wherever the BJP loses,'” he said, adding, “Now that the EVMs were captured, officials will make several excuses…”
In the last elections, the BJP won 47 seats by a margin of less than 5,000 votes, party leader Samajwadi said. Now that the exit polls “add to the perception that the BJP is winning, any robbery that may occur is averted”, he said.
“The news of the capture of EVM in Varanasi sends a message to every UP assembly to be vigilant. All candidates and supporters of the SP alliance should be ready with their cameras to thwart the attempt to rigging the counting of votes. Young people become soldiers in the counting of votes to protect democracy and the future!” he also tweeted.
—Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 8, 2022
Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj (SBSP) party leader and Akhilesh Yadav ally Om Prakash Rajbhar said he “doesn’t believe a word” of the magistrate’s explanation. The alliance complained to the electoral commission, which assured them of action, said PS state chairman Naresh Uttam Patel and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.
The Samajwadi party plans to file a petition in the High Court on the matter tomorrow, sources said.
The counting of votes for the mammoth seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh will take place on Thursday. The Samajwadi party has claimed it will win and form the government of the state, where the BJP is hoping for another term in power.
All the exit polls, however, predicted a BJP victory. A total of ten exit polls indicated yesterday that the BJP could win more than 240 of the 403 seats in the state assembly, comfortably above the midpoint. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi party could win more than 130 seats, according to exit polls.
Mr Yadav, however, was positive, tweeting ‘We form government’ as the election wrapped up yesterday.