Days after the Uttarakhand High Court ordered seizure of all EVMs used during the recent assembly polls in Vikasnagar constituency of Dehradun district, it ordered the seizure of EVMs used in six more constituencies on Monday. Taking cognizance of petitions filed by Congress candidates who lost from these seats where polling was held on February 15, a single-judge bench of Justice Servesh Kumar Gupta issued notices to the Election Commission of India, State Election Commission and others, asking them to respond within six weeks.
Alleging tampering of EVMs, the Congress candidates have submitted “circumstantial evidence” to claim that the EVMs allotted at many booths were not the ones that were used during voting. The six constituencies are Rajpur Road, BHEL Ranipur, Raipur, Mussoorie, Pratapnagar and Haridwar Rural. Barring Pratapnagar, all the other seats are in the two districts of Dehradun and Haridwar. While a voter has filed the petition in Haridwar Rural — where former Chief Minister Harish Rawat was defeated by a BJP candidate — all other petitions have been filed by Congress candidates.
“We have filed petitions citing circumstantial evidence to show that the elections were rigged. The HC has taken cognizance and ordered the seizure of EVMs,” Vikasnagar’s Congress candidate Navprabhat told The Indian Express.
“The HC has issued notices to the Government of India, Election Commission of India, State Election Commission, District Election Officer, returning officer and winning candidates to respond within six weeks,” he said.
“Before polling, a returning officer supplies a list of all the EVM machines to be used in the constituency. But the machines which were supplied to the booths and finally used for polling were not the same as the ones that were assigned for those booths,” alleged Congress’s counsel Avtar Singh.
“In Raipur constituency, we found discrepancies in over 30 booths. The EVMs that were used here were not the ones that were assigned. This is a serious crime. This pattern is recorded in all the 70 seats,” claimed Navprabhat. “Discrepancy at 30 booths means 30,000 votes. It’s a big number,” he said, adding that they were examining EVMs “across the state” now.
“We do not know how these machines were changed, how they were programmed,” said Singh, adding that while some EVMs are changed at the last minute if there is a problem with the allotted machines, there were “largescale discrepancies” in the assembly polls. He also alleged that some BJP candidate were enrolled as voters in two places.
Dismissing the charges, BJP spokesperson and Vikasnagar MLA Munna Singh Chauhan said: “We respect the judicial process, but these allegations are baseless and an insult to the Election Commission of India… This is sheer frustration of the Congress party. They have still not accepted that they have been wiped out. EVMs were checked before polling in the presence of election agents of every party. No discrepancy was found during the trial run. If the Congress is raising the issue now, what were their election agents doing then.”
Giving details of the purported evidence mentioned in his petition, Navprabhat said: “On March 2, Raju Binjola prepared a detailed prediction of the election results and posted it on Facebook. It gave village-wise details of the votes for me, the BJP candidate and Independents. He was proved almost correct,” he said. Counting of votes was held on March 11.
Binjola, a BJP members, is an aide of Chauhan. Binjola predicted that Navprabhat would get 32,572 votes and Chauhan would get 37,590 votes. The actual vote count was 32,477 and 38,895 respectively.
Binjola predicted the votes for 33 localities in his Facebook post. Navprabhat claimed that it was a near-accurate prediction for every village. “How could he get such accuracy? The only minor difference is that Munna Singh got nearly 1,000 more votes than he had predicted,” he said.
Asked about Binjola’s Facebook post, Chauhan said: “I predicted close to 60 seats, and we got 57 seats. Can the election be quashed on this basis? Many people speculate about the results. If you raise allegations on the basis of such speculation, then no election can be held in the future. These allegations reflect the political bankruptcy of the Congress.”
Demanding that EVMs used in other constituencies should also be seized and examined, Congress spokesperson Gopal Narsen said: “Until the HC delivers its final order on these petitions, the state assembly should suspend rights of the MLAs of these seven constituencies.