- EVMs were kept at police station after voting on Wednesday
- They reached collection centre on Friday
- State election officer says the machines were not ones used for voting
A controversy has broken out in Madhya Pradesh over the delay in Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs reaching the collection centre in Sagar on Friday, a full 48 hours after voting ended in the state elections on Wednesday.
The EVMs were kept at a police station in Khurai city in the district, where Madhya Pradesh home minister Bhupendra Singh is the BJP legislator. He is contesting against Congress's Arunoday Chaubey.
Hundreds of agitated Congress workers on Friday protested outside the collection centre demanding an inquiry and action against officials involved in causing the delay. They allege it is the ruling BJP's attempt to manipulate results.
"In Madhya Pradesh home minister's area, EVMs were deposited using a bus without a registration plate, 48 hours after polling. Is this a conspiracy by the government to ensure a BJP win?" the Madhya Pradesh Congress tweeted.
The Chief Electoral Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh, however, said these EVMs were not used for voting, and were among the ones kept on standby to be used in case of a technical snag. Sources say there were 34 such EVMs.
"These are EVMs kept as 'Reserve' stationed at some Police stations, to be used as replacement for malfunctioning machines during Poll. Such machines were to be stored separately from polled EVMs. Strong room having Polled EVMs was neither opened nor was supposed to be opened," the Chief Electoral Officer tweeted.
"Every EVM has a unique number code for it. The numbers of EVM used in polling have been shared with all political parties. The numbers of reserved EVM's have been checked by political parties in sagar districts. Their numbers are different," the Chief Electoral Officer also said.
EVMs are sealed and transported immediately to collection centres after polling ends.
Sources in the BJP say transporting the EVMs is the duty of the Election Commission and they have nothing to say on the controversy.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh is hoping to unseat the BJP, which has been in power for the last 15 years. The state recorded a voter turnout of over 74 per cent, higher than what it did in last elections in 2013. Results will be declared on December 11.