Under fire for having allegedly violated rules by entering polling booths and inspecting EVMs while voting was on in Amethi on May 7, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Saturday got a breather after the Election Commission gave him a clean chit, saying he had “visited polling station at 10.15 am, when the machine was not working and no poll was taking place”.
On Friday, the EC had asked two senior IAS officers from the UP Chief Electoral Office to inquire into the allegations of Rahul having violated the secrecy of ballot.
In their report to the EC headquarters, Additional Chief Electoral Officers Alok Tiwari and K Vijayendra Pandian stated, “It seems that Mr Gandhi actually inspected the old, defective EVM in the voting compartment and had left before the polling began with new EVM.”
As per the report, the person seen along with Rahul in the photograph was the son of Congress polling agent Ashok Kumar Shukla. Shukla told the EC officials his son “was the reliever for him” and he himself was at quite some distance from the polling station when Rahul visited it. The report also states that polling agents of AAP and BSP stated that actual polling began around 10.30 am after Rahul had left.
The report said that “based on statements given, it is possible to infer that neither Mr Gandhi sought permission to inspect the voting compartment nor was he stopped by anyone from doing so”. “Since Mr Gandhi left the PS before the polling began, he did not violate the secrecy of ballot and also did not hinder the polling process in any way,” it concluded.