The results of bypolls held on ten assembly seats spread across nine states will be declared Thursday. The elections were held in Legislative Assemblies of Shahkot (Punjab), Tharali (Uttarakhand), Ampati (Meghalaya), Chengannur (Kerala), Jokihat (Bihar), Gomia and Silli (Jharkhand), Maheshtala (West Bengal), Noorpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Palus Kadegaon (Maharashtra) on May 28.
The bypoll in Maharashtra’s Kadegaon was necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA Patangrao Kadam. Vishwakeet Kadam is the lone candidate for this bypoll, as BJP withdrew their candidate Sangramsinh Deshmukh. The elections in Kerala’s Chengannur was held after the death of Communist Party of India (Marxist) lawmaker KK Ramachandran Nair in January. The candidates contesting the bypolls include Saji Cheriyan from CPM, D Vijaykumar from Congress and PS Sreedharan Pillai from BJP.
Over 70 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Maheshtala assembly in West Bengal, while 57 per cent voting was held in Noorpur of UP. In Jokihat, 55 per cent polling was done on the day with no instance of any untoward incident. Chengannur witnessed a massive 74.5 per cent polling, while about 73 per cent was polled in Shahkot of Punjab. 75.5 per cent votes were polled in Jharkhand’s Silli in the bye-election while voter turnout reached 88.58 per cent in Ampati assembly of Meghalaya.
Reports of faulty EVM
The elections were marred by complaints of EVM malfunctioning, with the EC having to replace faulty machines at a few places after which repolling was held on several booths on Wednesday. The Samajwadi Party and RLD complained of glitches in the electronic voting machines. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, tweeted, “Receiving reports of problems in EVMs in the bye-elections but still voters should go to cast votes.” Voting in bypolls for Bhandara-Gondia constituency in Maharashtra was also marred by large-scale malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).
The Election Commission of India (ECI) described the reports of EVM/VVPAT malfunctioning as “exaggerated”. The Election Commission of India (ECI), in a statement, said, “News reports surfacing in media alleging ‘large scale’ failure of EVMs and VVPATs in the ongoing by-elections and interruption of polls in the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are an exaggerated projection of reality.”
The Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena alleged that the breaking down of voting machines was a political ploy of the ruling BJP to swing the elections in their favour.
Repolling held on Wednesday
The EC also ordered repoll at 49 booths of Bhandara-Gondia constituency in Maharashtra in the wake of reports of electronic voting machines (EVM) and VVPAT malfunction during the bypolls on May 28. Along with Bhandara-Gondia, the repolling was also held at 73 polling booths in Kairana Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh. In addition to ordering repolls, the EC transferred the collector of Gondia, who acted as returning officer for the bypoll Monday. Sources said the decision was taken based on the report of the state CEO.