A key minister in the Narendra Modi government has filed a complaint with the returning officer in his Bareilly Lok Sabha constituency, seeking a probe into an alleged error in counting of votes during the recent Lok Sabha polls.
The complaint by Santosh Gangwar, an eight-time MP and now Labour and Employment Minister, says that a particular booth in the Kali Bari locality did not vote in his favour, despite being a traditional Bharatiya Janata Party pocket. His complaint has now gone viral over social media in the UP.
Gangwar, who has won from Bareilly in all elections since 1989 except in 2009, filed his complaint on August 14 with District Magistrate Virendra Kumar Singh, the returning officer in the general elections.
In his complaint letter, the Minister said that in booth number 290 (Shishu Bal Sadan) located in Kali Bari, the BJP got only 5 votes while Congress 29 and Samajwadi Party 583.
Claiming that there seems to be a "chook" (error) during counting, he requested a probe into the matter.
Gangwar's aide Ramesh Chand Jain, who now looks after his constituency and had been Minister's additional Private Secretary earlier, told IANS that a letter in this connection has been written to the returning officer.
"The booth has always been a BJP pocket, but the numbers of votes in our favour present a different picture," said Jain, who is perceived to be Gangwar's closest aide in Bareilly.
On the other hand BJP's principal opponent in UP, the Samajwadi Party raked up the issue to raise questions on the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). After an unexpected drubbing at the hands of BJP in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the SP and its allies had raised doubts over EVMs.
"Gangwarji is a very honest and senior leader of the BJP. His complaint should be taken seriously. The SP requests Election Commission that all forthcoming polls in UP should revert to ballot boxes as EVMs credibility is being repeatedly questioned," said SP national spokesperson I.P. Singh.
Insiders in the BJP, however, said that Gangwar's complaint is not actually targeted at the counting procedure but his alleged rival Rajesh Agarwal, another prominent local leader of the BJP who is now Cabinet Minister in the state's Yogi Adityanath government.
Sources said that both Agarwal and Gangwar are not on good terms and the party leadership is also aware of this rivalry.
While Gangwar swept Bareilly, polling over 5.65 lakh votes, he failed to muster support in Kali Bari area where Agarwal resides. IANS tried to reach Agarwal for his comments but could not contact him.
The District Magistrate office in Bareilly confirmed that complaint has been received and a probe is on.