Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav today hit out at the Election Commission over the transport and storage of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), posting a photograph on social media that showed children carrying what appear to be boxes containing EVMs. The former Deputy Chief Minister also criticised the polling body for carrying the boxes in unregistered vehicles.
"In Bihar, EVM transportation is being done by using child labour," Tejashwi Yadav wrote in Hindi on Twitter, adding, "Voting machines are being taken in unregistered vehicles against the rules."
He also wrote, "EVMs were transported to a hotel in Muzaffarpur where they were found in the presence of a magistrate."
The Bihar legislator's attack comes as the Congress and other opposition parties allege that EVMs have been tampered with in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana. Alarmed by what they believe amounts to fraud, opposition party workers in several states have maintained round-the-clock vigils on EVM storage rooms ahead of counting day.
In Uttar Pradesh, Congress workers sat outside storerooms in Meerut and Raebareli, the stronghold of the Gandhi family and the seat from which Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election.
In Chandigarh, Congress workers stationed themselves outside strongrooms to ensure there was no movement of machines.
In Tamil Nadu, DMK leader M Kanimozhi said she saw voting machines being moved in Thoothukudi district, from where she is seeking election. She said she had deployed agents to monitor CCTV security feeds.
The Election Commission yesterday dismissed allegations and released a press statement that said: "Election Commission of India would like to emphatically and unambiguously clarify that all such reports and allegations are absolutely false".
In an order passed in December last year, the polling body said that all EVMs, including reserve machines "shall be under cover of armed police at all times" after polling process is over. It also said "reserve EVMs should also be returned at the same time when the polled EVMs are returned at the receipt center".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier expressed concern over the "needless controversy" over EVMs at a meeting of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies.
The BJP-led NDA is widely expected to return to power in this election, with 12 of 14 exit polls suggesting the alliance will win between 282 and 365 of 543 Lok Sabha seats.
Mr Yadav had also tweeted on "sudden movement of EVMs across north India" yesterday.
His tweet said, "Visuals and claims of sudden movement of EVMs observed across the north India! Why is it so? Who is transporting these EVMs & Why?"
Visuals and claims of sudden movement of EVMs observed across the north India! Why is it so? Who is transporting these EVMs & Why? What is purpose and objective of this exercise? In order to avoid any confusion & misconception, Election Commission must issue a statement ASAP.— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) May 20, 2019
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