Following allegations by the Aam Aadmi Party government in New Delhi regarding manipulations of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), a handful of candidates who contested civic elections in Mumbai earlier this year and had raised doubts regarding the functioning of the EVMs said their complaints should be investigated thoroughly now in light of the fresh allegations made in the national capital.
Ramakanth Awhad, who unsuccessfully contested the BMC polls on the Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh ticket from Ward 151 in Chembur, had raised the issue of possible tampering of EVMs with election officials soon after the results were announced.
“I have been actively involved with the Kachara Vahtuk Shramik Sangh for past several years. There are more than 300 activists of this organisation in the Shramjivi Nagar in Chembur West. So, I was expecting to get more than ,500 votes, including the votes of the family members of these activists. To my surprise, I just got three votes. It is unbelievable,” said Awhad, who had registered a complaint with the state election commission officials. There were other candidates too from different parties who had discussed a similar complaint, he added. “Many complaints regarding the tampering of the EVM machines were registered with the election officials. Now, all these complaints should be investigated. I also plan to take up the issue, along with others, with the state election commission,” said Awhad.
Meanwhile, former Sena corporator Surendra Bagalkar, who contested in the civic polls and lost to BJP candidate Atul Shah in Ward 220 after a tie between the two candidates was resolved through a draw of lots, felt that some of the EVMs used in the election had flaws.
“There have been many cases where candidates have raised allegations of EVMs being tampered with. It seems suspicious that candidates had not secured a single vote from the booth they and their families had voted from.”
In the civic elections, he added, BJP candidates had secured votes in certain areas where the party had no presence earlier and the seat was expected to be won by a member from the Congress or the Samajwadi Party.
Bagalkar added that it was unlikely that a candidate would contest without ensuring that he or she would be able to secure a certain number of votes from the area. “No candidate would be foolish enough to put in money to contest in the election without the confidence of being able to secure enough votes at least from their own booths.”
“It seems bizarre that the candidates who complained of securing zero votes from their booths managed to get more votes from other voting booths in the electoral ward,” he said, hinting at foul play. Bagalkar and Shah had secured 5,946 votes each and after two rounds of counting, Shah was declared winner after a chit was drawn to break the tie.
Another losing candidate, Madhuri Satish Mirekar of the Congress from Ward 107 in Mulund, also sensed something amiss after the result. “After the result, we discussed the likelihood of tampered EVMs with an activist in Pune who was gathering such complaints. We, however, did not lodge a complaint,” said Satish Mirekar, her husband.