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EC orders re-poll in 73 booths, allegations of malfunctioning EVMs mar by-polls

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EC orders re-poll in 73 booths, allegations of malfunctioning EVMs mar by-polls

The Election Commission claimed that complaints were exaggerated

In a scenario where every seat counts, every election is seen as an indicator of public mood, the keenly watched by-polls in four Lok Sabha and nine assembly constituencies on Monday once again witnessed the ruling parties and opposition trade barbs as allegations of EVM malfunctioning marred polling in a number of seats on Monday.

Complaints came from nearly everywhere, but most were from the more crucial or sensitive states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Even when the voting was underway, opposition parties and the ruling BJP moved the EC in the national capital claiming that “hundreds” of EVMs and paper trail machines deployed for Kairana and Noorpur bypolls developed snags and were not replaced for hours.

The most serious charges came from Kairana Lok Sabha constituency, where EC decided to hold repoll in 73 polling booths. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alleged that electronic voting machines (EVMs) have been tampered with in Dalit and Muslim dominated areas during the bypolls in Kairana.

RLD candidate in Kairana Tabassum Hasan shot a letter to the Election Commission alleging that EVMs and VVPATs were deliberately tampered with and no action has been initiated to fix them. The complaint pertains to EVM tampering and malfunctions being reported from different localities of five Assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency. According to Tabassum, 18 booths in Shamli, 11 booths in Kairana and 21 booths in Gangoh Assembly constituency faced issues related to EVM malfunctioning.

Tabassum told news agency ANI, EVMs are being tampered everywhere and faulty machines haven’t been replaced in the Muslim- and Dalit-dominated areas.

“I’ve been continuously receiving complaints. They didn’t expect so many ppl to come out to vote in Ramzan. Initial strategy was to hold elections in Ramzan so that ppl won’t vote,” she said.

Tabassum Hassan, Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate for the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, wrote to the Election Commission alleging voting machines and paper trail devices developed snags at more than 150 of the 941 booths just after polling started at 7am.

“It cannot be a coincidence that the machines are not working where there is a substantial turnout of Muslim and Dalit voters. I handed a written complaint to the poll panel but nothing has been done though several hours have passed,” she told reporters.

The RLD – supported by Samajwadi Party and BSP – is in direct contest with the incumbent BJP. The election on Kairana Lok Sabha seat was necessitated due to the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh. His daughter Mriganka Singh is taking on Begum in the bypoll.

Speaking to Outlook, RLD’s organisation secretary for Uttar Pradesh, Rajkumar Sangwan said EVMs are found faulty in over 250 booths. “The Muslims, who are fasting on Ramzan, are standing on the queue for over three hours due to faulty EVMs and the district administration is not taking any action to fix them,” he said.

Naeemul Hasan, Samajwadi Party candidate for the Noorpur Assembly seat, also complained about EVMs, saying the paper trail machines were non-functional at 113 of the 351 booths.

Hitting out at the faulty EVMs, Samajwadi Party’s Rajendra Chaudhary said, “There are reports that in Noorpur 140 EVMs are faulty, which is because they’ve been tampered, there are similar reports from Kairana. They (BJP) want to avenge defeat in Phulpur & Gorakhpur, which is why they want to defeat us at any cost,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

“Thousands of EVMs are not working. Thirsty and hungry farmers, labourers, women and youths are standing in queues in the scorching sun,” SP national president Akhilesh Yadav tweeted during the polling.

In Maharashtra, voting in 35 booths of Maharashtra Bhandara–Gondiya Lok Sabha seat was temporarily suspended due to complaints of faulty EVMs. “Voting temporarily suspended for now at 35 polling booths due to faulty Electronic Voting Machines (EVM),” District Magistrate Abhimanyu Kale was quoted as saying.

Media reports said amid Opposition’s allegations of nearly 25 per cent EVMs being used in the bypoll in the Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary constituency on Monday were malfunctioning, the Election Commission said all defective machines were been replaced.

However, calling the reports of largescale voting machine malfunction “an exaggeration”, the Election Commission  said the “severe heat conditions” were interfering with the machines.

The EC said reports of ‘large-scale’ failure of EVMs were “exaggerated projection of reality” even as complaints mounted about problems with machines, including in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana, where BJP is trying to retain the Lok Sabha seat against a united Opposition in a communally-charged election.

Media reports said the poll panel blamed inept handling of the paper-trail machines for votes by the ground staff, especially when the temperature is high, for malfunctioning in some areas. District magistrate of Shamli district says that VVPAT machines had problems and not EVMs.

Not satisfied, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad urged political parties to come together and boycott use of EVMs, alleging that faults were being “purposely generated” in EVMs.

He claimed the new machines used to replace the faulty ones already had polled votes. Azad, who was in Maharashtra for an iftar party at the Congress state headquarters, claimed the BJP was banking on “theft” of votes. He said he was saddened that even the EC has not taken any action.

Tehseen Poonawalla, writing in Time of India (TOI), questioned the EC’s stand on EVMs. He said “the ECI now admits that EVMS can be hacked , totally contradictory to its earlier stand , but rules out the possibility, citing that it is impossible to lay hands on the EVMs.”

Raising doubts about the dependability of EVMs, he said that EC reply to various RTI applications revealed several theft of EVMs particularly from BJP ruled states.

To add to this the ECI has no records of technicians from the 2 PSUs BHEL & ECIL ( Electronics Corporation of India Limited ) who are engaged in maintenance of the machines. Moreover , there exists no records of how many technicians from the 2PSUs who were earlier engaged with maintenance of EVMs have left their service since the 1st generation of EVMs were introduced and have since now taken up private employment.

During the general elections, he added , ECI engages several private technicians to service the approx 8lacs EVMs ( 5 laga in use). However no records exists about these people, if whether these technicians are late engaged by any political organization.

Casting doubts on the way Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)  is used, he said it is meant to show voters that their votes went to the candidate they desired to vote for. But the paper used in VVPAT is thermal paper and the ink disappears in about 4 months. Also on the paper trail, there exists no barcode or numbering to tally the votes. Therefore, in several cases, despite VVPAT , votes in the machine & paper trail did not tally .

Finally, he said, the ECI says that it is not possible to tamper and manipulate every single EVM. However , all EVMs need not be hacked since, on an average, most assembly elections are won or lost by a near margin of < 10,000 votes. So only a few EVMs needs to be manipulated to alter the results, he said.

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Congress slams Rajasthan BJP MLA for his derogatory remarks against Muslims

36 children and 4 begums are wrong.

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Congress MLA Harimohan Sahrma on Wednesday slammed the BJP MLA Balmukundacharya for his derogatory remarks against Muslims saying, the ruling party’s intention is just to target the Muslim Community.

Earlier, the Rajasthan BJP MLA triggered a controversy after he targeted the Muslim community indirectly by saying, 36 children and 4 begums are wrong. According to him, the population control laws are the necessity of the hour.

In a video message shared on a social media platform, the BJP leader could be heard saying there is a huge problem with the increasing population. There is a community which has ‘chhatis bacche and char begum’. There are countless cases where this is wrong. There should be an equal law for everyone; otherwise, how will the country move forward, said BJP MLA.

Asserting that he said there is nothing wrong with population laws. The way the population is increasing, there is a need for more food and housing. This is a hurdle in growth. If we want to become a prosperous and developed country, there should be a collective agreement on this, and population laws should be made which is beneficial for all, he added.

He said that a sister came to his office and said she was the third wife of her husband, and he was going to bring her fourth. He said he advised her that now there is a law against it and she should take the help of the police. The BJP MLA further said that it is not a matter of government or non-government benefits rather the point is that in the country, some families say ’hum do hamare do’, while some say if birth is happening, let it happen as it is God’s will. There is a need to look at this, he asserted.

Earlier on Sunday, Urban Development and Housing Minister Jhabar Singh Kharra said efforts were being made by the Central government to ensure that every household who have more than two or three children will not get the benefits of any government facilities.

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Maharashtra: 4 top leaders quit Ajit Pawar’s party after Lok Sabha election Drubbing, to join Sharad Pawar’s NCP

Ajit Gavahane, Yash Sane, a student leader, and two former corporators, Rahul Bhosale and Pankaj Bhalekar were the leaders who have parted ways from Ajit Pawar’s party.

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In a major setback to Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, four top leaders have resigned from the party in Maharashtra’s Pimpri Chinchwad after a poor performance in the recent Lok Sabha election and are set to join the Sharad Pawar-led party.

President of the Pimpri-Chinchwad unit, Ajit Gavahane, Yash Sane, a student leader, and two former corporators, Rahul Bhosale and Pankaj Bhalekar were the leaders who have parted ways from Ajit Pawar’s party.

Speaking to media, Gavahane said that he resigned from the party on July 16 and today “we will have a meeting with all ex-corporators of another Vidhan Sabha constituency. We will accordingly decide our upcoming strategy. We are going to take blessings of Pawar Sahab (Sharad Pawar). We will make a decision together”, he added.

The decision of leaders from the Ajit fraction comes amid buzz that they might shift their allegiance to the Sharad Pawar party. Earlier, speaking to the media, Sharad Pawar said those who tried to weaken his party would not be taken in, but he would welcome leaders who would not hurt the reputation of the party.

He said that those who wanted to weaken the party would not be taken in. But those leaders who would help strengthen the organization and not hurt the image of the party would be taken in, he added.

The Pawar family split into two political parties after a rebellion by Ajit Pawar against his uncle and NCP founder, Sharad Pawar, in 2023. Sharad Pawar remained in the Opposition camp, while Ajit Pawar joined the Mahayuti government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and was rewarded with the post of his deputy.

Ajit Pawar’s party contested the Lok Sabha elections as part of the BJP-led NDA but only managed to win one seat, Raigad, while his uncle’s party secured eight seats.

 

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma says only 8 people applied for citizenship under CAA

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that only eight people have applied for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the state so far.

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

The Assam CM further said that the State conducted outreach programmes in the Barak valley and approached many Hindu Bengali families and asked them to apply for citizenship under CAA. However, they refused to do so saying that they would prefer fighting their cases at the Foreigners Tribunal (FT), Sarma added.

Foreign Tribunals (FT), quasi-judicial bodies exclusive to Assam, are authorised to decide the nationality issue of doubtful citizens, he asserted. Sarma also claimed that most of the Hindu-Bengali families, who were not included in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), told him that they possessed the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship and preferred the FT route rather than applying for through the CAA.

When asked whether the Assam government is dropping cases in Foreigners Tribunals (FT) against Hindu-Bengalis, Sarma termed it misleading. He said the State cannot drop any case. The government is simply advising that before initiating a case, individuals should apply through the CAA portal. Even if a case is filed, there won’t be any outcome because these people are eligible for citizenship, Assam CM emphasised.

CM also assured that he is going to request the Advocate General to flag the issue of CAA so that FTs can give time to people whose cases are going on to apply for citizenship under the newly implemented law.

He added that the government cannot give a direction to the court to pause while deciding the citizenship cases. The FT judges themselves have to decide and they know the latest situation, Sarma said.

He also explained why there was a low number of applications in CAA, saying the Opposition myth that 15-20 lakh Bangladeshis will get citizenship in Assam has been busted completely.

The Chief Minister said that during the anti-CAA movement, five Assamese youths lost their lives. So they made the sacrifice to prevent only these eight people, he asked. This abysmally low number of eight applications, of which only two turned up for interview, is a bit surprising for us also, he said.

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