Truck carrying EVMs intercepted, BJP trying to steal votes in UP: Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav claimed on Tuesday that a truck carrying EVMs was "intercepted" in Varanasi and accused the ruling BJP of attempting to "steal" votes
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav claimed on Tuesday that a truck carrying EVMs was "intercepted" in Varanasi and accused the ruling BJP of attempting to "steal" votes.
The Varanasi district administration said EVMs meant for training purposes were being transported in a truck, which was stopped by some "political persons" who spread "rumours" that the machines were used in the just-concluded polls.
At a press conference in Lucknow, Yadav alleged that senior government officials in the state capital are directing their subordinates in the districts to slow down the counting of votes and prolong the process till late night where the chances of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates winning the electoral contest are slim.
He said the instructions are particularly with regard to 47 seats that the BJP had won in the last state Assembly polls with a margin of less than 5,000 votes.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister also alleged that the BJP-led state government is "stealing" EVMs and a truck carrying the voting machines was caught in Varanasi.
"Instructions are being sent to the district magistrates from the chief minister's residence by the principal secretary to the chief minister that wherever the BJP is losing the election, the counting should be delayed and it should be stretched till late night," he said.
"Today, in Varanasi, where the EVMs were being taken, one truck (with the machines) was caught, while two other trucks fled. If the government is not indulging in stealing votes, then it should at least say why the administration has not made security arrangements (for the EVMs).
"The force meant for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls has not left the state yet. What are the reasons that the EVMs were being transported without any security?" the SP chief asked.
He also said EVMs are kept in strongrooms and without informing the respective candidates, the machines cannot be moved or shifted from one place to another.
"In Bareilly, three sealed boxes (with EVMs) were found in a vehicle of the municipal corporation carrying garbage (registration number UP25DT9166). Plain ballot papers and things used for sealing (EVMs) were also found. A similar incident was also reported from Sonbhadra. What justification will the government give?" Yadav asked.
He claimed that at the ground level, votes were cast against the BJP and that there is anger among the public.
A statement issued by the Varanasi district administration on behalf of District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said EVMs meant for training purposes were being transported in a truck, which was stopped by some "political persons" who spread "rumours" that the machines were used in the just-concluded polls.
On Wednesday, a second training session for officials who will be engaged in the counting process will be held and these machines are used for "hands-on training" purposes, the statement said.
The EVMs used for polling are kept in the strongroom under the watch of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and CCTV cameras, it added.
Mocking the exit polls, which gave a clear majority to the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh election, Yadav said, "I do not want to comment on the exit polls. The exit polls want to create a perception that the BJP is winning (the election), so that the stealing, which they are doing, is not known (to the public). Hence, I would say that if we have voted, we should also ensure that our votes are protected. If the votes are not counted, then where will democracy go?"
Replying to a question at the press conference, the SP chief, flanked by ally Om Prakash Rajbhar of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), said going to court is an option against the "stealing of votes" but before that, he would appeal to youngsters, farmers and journalists to protect their votes from being illegally taken away.
"The Uttar Pradesh election is the last battle for democracy and after this, the public will have to unleash a revolution. Only then will the transformation come. I would ask all the SP workers that till the counting is over, everyone has to keep a close watch. The party that has lost (the election) can only do this thing, which it is going to do," he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya trashed the charges levelled by Yadav and asked him to stop staging a drama before the counting of votes.
He said the Election Commission (EC) makes proper arrangements for every candidate to keep a watch over the EVMs.
The seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls concluded on Monday. The counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.
The Election Commission clarified that these EVMs were "marked for training" of officials who will be on duty during the counting of votes and were not used in elections.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday night, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of UP said that a "'rumour was spread by people of some political party by stopping the vehicle and alleging that these EVMs were used in elections".
"According to the report sent by the District Election Officer (of Varanasi), it was found during the investigation that these EVMs were marked for training.
"To train the officials involved in counting duty, training has been organised for March 9 (Wednesday)," it said
The statement said the second training of the employees engaged in counting duty is on Wednesday and "these machines are always used in training for hands-on training".
"These EVMs were being taken for training today, and rumour was spread by people of some political party by stopping the vehicle, and alleging that these EVMs were used in elections," the statement said.