Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has alleged that Electronic Voting machines were being stolen from a counting centre in Varanasi just two days before the counting of votes. Accusing the government of "theft", SP chief highlighted that in 2017, the BJP's winning margin on nearly 50 seats were less than 5,000 votes.
As many clips of EVMs in the truck are being shared on social media, the District Magistrate of Varanasi said the EVMs were not the ones used for voting and are just being used for "hands-on training".
Holding "some political parties" responsible for "spreading rumours", District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said the EVMs used in the polls "are all sealed in the strong room in the possession of CRPF and there is CCTV surveillance which is being watched by people of all parties". The EVMs, DM said, were being taken to a local college from the storehouse at the Mandi counting centre.
Later, the DM also said the vehicle with 20 EVMs that was intercepted by the workers "is here" and can be examined by anyone. "Some people said there were two or three vehicles, but there is CCTV here and all over the campus. Anyone can check that (footage) too, so this matter ends here... These EVMs will not be moved again so that no further controversy is caused," DM added.
Appearing in front of the media, Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav, however, firmly countered the claim.
"If there was no suspicious activity, how did two trucks with EVMs escape? You cannot move any EVMs from anywhere without the consent of candidates," he said.
"We were getting information that a principal Secretary to the Chief Minister was calling District Magistrates, saying 'counting should be slow wherever the BJP is losing'," he said, adding, "Now that the EVMs have been caught, the officials will make multiple excuses..."
In the previous polls, the BJP had secured 47 seats with a gap of less than 5,000 votes, the Samajwadi Party chief said. Now that the exit polls are "adding to the perception that the BJP is winning, any theft that may be taking place is prevented," he said.
"The news of EVM being caught in Varanasi is giving a message to every assembly of UP to be alert. All candidates and supporters of SP-alliance should be ready with their cameras to thwart the attempt to rigging the counting of votes. Youth become soldiers in counting of votes to protect democracy and future!" he also tweeted.
वाराणसी में EVM पकड़े जाने का समाचार उप्र की हर विधानसभा को चौकन्ना रहने का संदेश दे रहा है।— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 8, 2022
मतगणना में धांधली की कोशिश को नाकाम करने के लिए सपा-गठबंधन के सभी प्रत्याशी और समर्थक अपने-अपने कैमरों के साथ तैयार रहें।
युवा लोकतंत्र व भविष्य की रक्षा के लिए मतगणना में सिपाही बने!
Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief and Akhilesh’s ally Om Prakash Rajbhar stated he "doesn't believe a word" of the DM's clarification. The alliance has raised the issue to the Election Commission, which has assured them of action, said SP UP president Naresh Uttam Patel and spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.
The Samajwadi Party plans to file a plea in the high court on the matter tomorrow, sources said.
The counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh will take place on Thursday. The SP has claimed that it will win and form government in the state, where the BJP is hoping for another term in power.