Mumbai: The Shiv Sena on Wednesday claimed the voting percentage in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency had increased overnight and 82,727 votes were added to the by-poll report. It has threatened to move the Election Commission against District Collector Dr Prashant Nanaware and the administration. However, Dr Nanaware refuted the allegations and said all voting figures were filled up and sent to the EC in the presence of polling agents of all candidates.
The Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha bypoll was held on Monday and counting is on Thursday. Sena has raised an over increase in percentage of voting in Palghar LS constituency. According to Sena Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai, “Of the total 1731,077 votes in Palghar, 804,950 (46.50 per cent) voters had cast their votes on Monday. The district collector’s report to the chief secretary and chief election officer on Monday, too, said so. However, the collector changed the report on Tuesday morning and stated that the final voting percentage was 53.22.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “The voting percentage in Palghar, as confirmed by the polling officer, was 46.5% on Monday and has increased to 52.3% on Tuesday. How is this possible unless there is some major problem with the system?”
Sawant further alleged that while in every election, EVM machines are either procured from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) or the Electronic Corporation of India, this time the EVMs were procured from a private company in Surat. Collector Nanaware, while denying allegations of malfunctioning in Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails said, “It is highly impossible to make any changes in machines or in the voting system in the presence of more than 15,000 employees on polling duty.
“Once the last voter has cast his vote, we have to send a provisional voting report to the chief secretary. Later, after gathering all the machines from all the booths, we review and calculate final voting figures which we must submit the following morning by 7 am,” he explained.
He further said, “It is in the presence of polling agents of all candidates that we submit the voting report to the observers. Candidates depute polling agents to every booth. So, there were 2,097 booths and the same number of candidates’ agents. We have submitted the voting percentage of every booth to these agents.” “All parties, including those who have raised objections can check voting figures with their polling agents and cross-check with our figures. If they find a difference, then they have the right to raise doubts,” said the collector.
The results of the by-polls in Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha constituencies will be declared today. Counting is expected to be completed by 11 am. The voting percentage was 53 per cent in both constituencies.
In Palghar, the contest is mainly between Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Sena had fielded Srinivas Vanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Vanga, while BJP had fielded Rajendra Gavit, formerly from the Congress. The Bahujan Vikas Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) too are in the poll fray. According to CPI (M) insiders, they were instructed by party brass to support the Sena.