Partial re-polling for LS by-elections including Bhandara-Gondia today

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 May 2018 09:14:14



THE Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday announced re-poll in 73 polling stations in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana, 49 polling stations in Maharashtra’s Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after VVPAT machines developed snags during on Monday’s Lok Sabha by-polls.

The re-poll will be held from 7 am to 6 pm on Wednesday, official sources said. Notifications for the re-poll have been issued in Lucknow, Kohima and Mumbai. Over 11 per cent of the 10,300 voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines across 10 States had developed faults and had to be replaced on Monday. The Opposition parties too had demanded fresh polling in several polling stations in Kairana and Bhandara-Gondiya.

Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat, however, tried to play down the matter. “So, out of 1,700-odd polling stations of Kairana, fresh polling would be done in only 73 and out of 2,149 polling stations of Bhandara-Gondiya, only 49 would go for fresh polling on Wednesday under the Section 58 of the Representation of People’s Act,” Rawat said.

Palghar EVMs sent in pvt car to strongroom: AFTER polling ended in the Palghar Lok Sabha by-elections on Monday night, a polling officer in Maharashtra broke protocol and transported the confidential VVPAT-EVMs by his private car to the strongroom, early on Tuesday. Confirming the incident, Palghar Collector Prashant Narnaware said that a report has been received from the election Zonal Office and a detailed investigation has been ordered through by the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) of the area.

According to available information, the concerned official, apparently tired of waiting for the bus, called for his own private car from home. It is not clear whether he was accompanied by any security personnel on this venture. The Collector concurred that it was indeed ‘a serious lapse’ since, after the voting in any elections, “the EVM-VVPATs are considered sacrosanct” and cannot be moved around anywhere in such an unauthorized manner.

“As per the guidelines, after voting is completed, a special bus is sent to pick up all the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail-Electronic Voting Machines from all the polling centres.
“Each bus has a specific route by which it travels, picks up the machines and takes them to the ARO office. In this case, the laid down procedures were not followed by the concerned officer,” Narnaware told IANS. The officer, whose name has not yet been made known, was the polling officer at Chinchani polling station in Dahanu sub-district.

He loaded a couple of EVM-VVPATs on the rear seat and drove off to the ARO’s office early on Tuesday to deposit them in the strongroom before the counting process is undertaken on May 31.

When the shocking development came to light, whips were cracked and a police complaint is set to be lodged against the officer and others.


Gondia Collector shunted out


A DAY after the parlimentary by-poll, Gondia Collector Abhimanyu R. Kale was abruptly shunted from his post and kept on stand-by, an official statement said here on Tuesday evening.

He has been replaced by Kadambari S. Balkawde, IAS officer of the 2010 batch, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Nagpur Zilla Parishad.Balkawde will assume charge of her new posting immediately, while Kale has been kept on hold till further orders, said an announcement from Mantralaya.

She will oversee the re-polling ordered on Wednesday for 49 polling stations in the by-elections to the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency which was marred by major glitches in the EVM-VVPATs on Monday, leading to a furore among all the major political parties in the State.

On the reasons for Kale’s sudden removal, official sources indicated that it was on the orders of the Election Commission, but declined to elaborate. An unseemly controversy erupted on Monday when Kale contradicted the statements of a Deputy Election Officer, Anant Walaskar, who told the media of cancellation of voting in at least 35 polling stations after complaints of malfunctioning EVMs were received from 64 locations. Stressing that “nobody has the authority to decide this except the EC and no such orders have been issued”, Kale had said around 156 EVMs were already replaced or spares deployed and the voting process had resumed. The EVMs malfunctioned in polling booths at Khapa, Mandhal, Hingna and Kharbi in Bhandara-Gondia.

As per Walaskar’s statements on Monday, the EC on Tuesday ordered repolling in 49 polling stations spread across five Assembly segments that make up Bhandara-Gondia parliamentary constituency.