The Election Commission today asked the Madhya Pradesh government to transfer two more officials from Bhind district to ensure “free and fair” conduct of a bypoll in Ater, after a row over the demonstration of a VVAPT machine on March 31.
According to media reports, a faulty voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine dispensed slips with the BJP symbol only during its trial run ahead of the April 9 bypoll in Ater in Bhind district, irrespective of the EVM button pressed.
The EC direction came a day after the Bhind Collector Ilayaraja T, the Superintendent of Police Anil Singh Kushwaha along with the Ater Sub-Divisional Police Officer Indrveer Singh Bhadauria were shunted, a week ahead of the bypoll.
Meanwhile, Kiran Gopal and S Saxena today took charge as the Bhind Collector and the Superintendent of Police, respectively.
Manjeet Singh Chawla has replaced Bhadauria as Ater SDPO, after the EC’s direction to the state government. “We today asked the MP Government to transfer Revenue Inspector (RI) and acting in-charge Naib Tehsildar Vinod Tomar, and Patwari Rajendra Singh Bhadoria from Bhind,” an election commission official told PTI.
The officials remained posted in Bhind since long time, he said, adding that such exercises are taken to conduct free and fair polls.
After the trial of the machine, the Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia, besides Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other opposition leaders met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi in Delhi.
They lodged a complaint with the CEC saying a video of the trial run of the VVPAT machine attached to Electronic Voting Machine at Bhind on March 31 showed that it was dispensing slips only with the BJP symbol, no matter which button on the EVM was pressed.
The opposition parties demanded scrapping of the EVM for the coming elections. VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box and the voter cannot take it home.
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh, who was present during the trial and seen in the video, however, on April 1 had denied that VVPAT dispensed only BJP slips.
The bypoll in Ater was necessitated following the death of sitting Congress MLA Satyadev Katare, who was also the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
Byelection will also be held in Bandhavgarh in Umaria district on April 9 as the sitting BJP MLA Gyan Singh was elected as an MP from Shahdol Lok Sabha seat.