Wednesday, 18 May, 2022
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Congress puts plan in motion to guard EVMs as Priyanka Gandhi sends message of ‘hope’

Congress candidates have been coordinating with their state units to station workers outside EVM strongrooms and look out for suspicious activity.

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New Delhi: A day after exit polls predicted a comfortable win for the BJP government, Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sent an audio message to all party workers Monday night, asking them to guard the strongrooms where the EVMs have been kept.

Afwaho aur exit polls se himmat mat haariye. Strongrooms aur counting centres mein datey rahiye aur chaukanne rahiye (Don’t lose hope over rumours and exit polls. Be vigilant outside counting centres and strongrooms),” says Priyanka’s audio message. “Yakeen hai ki aapki mehnat rang layegi (I’m sure your efforts will pay off).”

All Congress candidates, however, had already chalked out a plan and have been in touch with their respective state units to ensure that the strongrooms are monitored for any suspicious activity till counting day, 23 May.

In Chattisgarh, for instance, the candidate and district-level in-charge have been working in tandem to chalk out a strategy for securing the strongroom.

“We generally get directions from the party regularly if they receive anything from the EC that has to be implemented,” said a senior Congress leader. “Since the assembly elections in 2018, it has become the norm for candidates to put up their teams for securing the strongroom till the day of counting. This time too, all candidates did it individually.”

Strongrooms being guarded

In Uttar Pradesh, Congress candidates have stationed groups of five men outside the strongrooms. Each group keeps vigil for six hours following which another group takes over. This will continue for the entire day till 23 May.

According to the senior Congress leader, the mechanism was put in place during assembly elections to nine states last year.

“During the assembly elections in 2018, we had put in place an elaborate system and booth-level workers had been trained for this purpose too,” the leader added.

“The team of polling officers had shown us the strongroom after the EVMs were brought in here at night. We then requested them to allow us to camp outside the strongroom throughout the night,” the Congress leader said. “We are working in six-hour shifts. There are four teams of five people each.

“The idea is to ensure if we notice anything untoward we immediately record it and raise it with the officials concerned,” he added.

Another senior leader pointed out that while the Congress has been guarding the strongroom, there are no BJP workers near the strongrooms in UP.

“While we were the first to camp, we were later joined by gathbandhan candidates. They had only two people and asked if they could share space with us,” the second leader said. “But apart from fulfilling the official requirements, the BJP people have not bothered to come or enquire about the EVMs.”

The leader added that there’s a CCTV camera exactly above the door-lock, with a multi-viewer screen in the verandah. “Around five people are available at the camp with some eight to nine chairs and bedding for the night,” added the leader.

Security at strongrooms

Strongrooms across the country have a three-layer security arrangement in place. The three-tier security includes paramilitary forces, local police and the district administration.

The strongrooms also have only one entry point and a double-lock system.

The EC said it had no readily available data regarding the strongrooms in the country. “No such ready data with me… awaiting a response, if any, from planning division,” said Shefali Sharan, the EC spokesperson.

The development comes amid growing concerns that the EVMs are being tampered with.

A delegation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday met Delhi Chief Electoral Officer and complained about the security of the strongroom where EVM machines have been kept after the elections to the South Delhi Lok Sabha seat on May 12.

In the past, a number of opposition parties have raised concerns over the functioning of EVMs with the Election Commission.


Also read: Two ex-IAS officers have suggestions for how EC can count votes and avoid EVM controversy


 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Is this the first time india is going for EVM polls. As my understanding this is going from 1995 & congress during their rule also the EV M machine voting was there. But why now only they r opposing. I could not understand. If someone let me clarify.

  2. Guarding a strong room where EVMs, pregnant with the nation’s verdict, are kept secure is the most sacred task and duty of local administrations, who are functioning directly under the ECI’s superintendence and control. For reservations to be expressed by the principal opposition party that something untoward could happen is something the Commission should reflect deeply upon. This miasma of distrust is not good for our democracy.

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