On the evening of 23 February, an unexpected development shocked Maharashtra as counting for local body polls in the state was ending. Violence erupted in Panchavati in the heart of Nashik city following complaints of tampering of EVMs (electronic voting machines).
The city BJP chief’s son was declared the winner from the ward, but the Shiv Sena claimed that the total of the votes received by each candidate exceeded the total number of votes cast.
A similar charge of EVM fraud swirled in Pune, only the reaction was thankfully non-violent. In Yerawada ward, 15 candidates from different political parties registered a complaint against the Returning Officer (RO), alleging “misappropriation” of EVMs during the counting of votes.
They claimed that a total of 33,289 votes were cast, but 43,324 votes were counted. They demanded a re-poll using ballot paper. A police complaint has been registered against the RO.
As the State Election Commission, which conducts local polls, turned down the demand for re-polling, a united opposition first held a protest meeting. As more cases emerged, they took out a mock funeral procession of replicas of EVMs on Tuesday, which were then symbolically cremated at the Vaikunth crematorium
Defeated candidates from all parties participated in this unusual protest; many of them had shocking stories to share.
I was announced as the winner and given the official letter under Section 149 (of the Representation of Peoples Act). Then we were asked to leave. But when we began our victory march, after about an hour, we were told that votes from one EVM were yet to be counted. And then suddenly, the BJP candidate was declared the winner.
Manisha Mohite, NCP Candidate, Pune
BJP MP Sanjay Kakde, who had played a crucial role in getting criminals into the BJP fold, had accurately predicted the results for Pune. He had vowed to give up politics if his prediction proved wrong. Opposition parties now cite this claim as proof that the ruling party had manipulated the poll results.
‘How Can I Get Zero Votes?’
In Mumbai, independent candidate Shrikant Shirsat got zero votes at the booth near his residence in Saki Naka in the western suburbs.
I voted for myself, so did my family and neighbours. The EVM has to be defective. How else can I get zero votes?
Shrikant Shirsat, Independent Candidate, Mumbai
Similar complaints are being reported from various parts of the state. Efforts are being made to collate data. A body called the Lokshahi Bachao Andolan has been formed in Nashik to collect data related to alleged tampering of EVMs.
In Nagpur, the NCP has threatened that it won’t let the mayor take oath unless an inquiry is conducted into the “EVM scam”. In nearby Amravati, an all-party bandh was called on Monday over the use of EVMs. It received a good response, with market places remaining closed
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