General Elections 2019 – Day 71
Opposition parties collectively meet EC with demands on VVPAT counting
Opposition leaders representing 22 political parties met with the Election Commissioner to voice demands concerning EVM tampering and electoral integrity.
The opposition delegation opposed the EC suggestion of counting the five sample VVPATs at the end of the counting. They claimed the purpose of VVPAT sample verification was to confirm EVM integrity, and the same must be confirmed at the start of counting rather than the end. They demanded if even one mismatch was observed, all VVPATS in that assembly must be counted.
They also raised the issues of security of the EVMs post-poll. They were concerned about video clips circulating on social media highlighting concerns with EVM tampering and transport. Video clips showed EVMs being suspiciously moved in private commercial vehicles without any government escort. They questioned the need for moving these suspiciously when the polls had already ended.
BSP candidate from Ghazipur in eastern U.P sat in dharna along with supporters objecting to attempts to take out a vehicle full of EVMs. It was only after the returning officer of the district visited and assured them of the safety of the EVMs from any tampering and permitted representatives of parties to personally watch over from the outside to ensure full compliance with security.
Similar video clips from Chandauli and Domariyaganj, U.P showed trucks with EVMs being moved suspiciously.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee concerned at alleged tampering of voters’ verdict
With controversy surrounding EVM security, tampering, and movement, former president of India Pranab Mukherjee issued a statement raising concern on the need to maintain people’s confidence in the Indian electoral system. He said the people’s mandate was sacrosanct and the onus of maintaining the safety and security of the EVMs lay with the Election Commission. He expressed the need for the EC to take all measures to ensure people’s faith and confidence in the electoral process remains intact.
Cracks appear in the Congress-JD(S) coalition ahead of election results
Two days before the counting of votes commences, cracks appeared in the already strained relations between coalition partners in Karnataka. The exit polls showing BJP getting 18 of 28 seats is having its impact between the coalition partners and within the Congress party itself.
First indication all wasn’t well between the Congress, and the JD(S) coalition came from CM HD Kumaraswamy who refused to join the opposition meeting called by Sonia Gandhi on May 23 in Delhi. During the polling phases, reports of local JD(S) leaders clashing with their Congress counterparts kept coming in. Many complained the compromise made in seat sharing would cost respective parties crucial votes.
The shocker of the day came from Congress MLA Roshan Ali Baig who blamed his party’s state president Dinesh Gundu Rao along with Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah and KC Venugopal, the AICC general secretary.
Baig went further to call Venugopal a ‘joker,’ and raised several eyebrows when he claimed Muslims should stop being treated as vote banks. His reference was to the Congress putting up just one Muslim candidate in the 21 seats it contested. He said Muslims should be open to joining the NDA if it was best for them.
The timing of the outburst surprised many and, post-results, the high command may take action against him.
Tense Bengal braces for result day
Voting in Bengal is over, but the state continues to remain tense with reports of clashes coming in from Cooch Behar where a BJP member was attacked, and his shop vandalized allegedly by TMC supporters. TMC denied any involvement in the attack.
The exit polls showing BJP making major inroads into TMC strongholds is spurring tensions between the two parties. BJP has claimed two TMC MPs are in touch with the party and, if TMC fares poorly, many may jump ship.
During campaigning, the PM claimed 40 TMC MLAs were in touch with him, and that statement upset Mamata Banerjee triggering an aggressive response.
Security forces remain alert as both parties await the results on May 23.