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SP chief Akhilesh accuses UP govt of ‘stealing’ EVMs in Varanasi just few hrs before counting

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Lucknow: Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the ruling BJP on Tuesday of attempting to “steal” votes and said exit polls are meant to create a perception that the saffron party will emerge victorious in the Uttar Pradesh election.

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Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yada has alleged that Electronic Voting machines were being stolen from a counting centre in Varanasi just few hrs before the counting of votes. Accusing the government of “theft”, he pointed out that in 2017, the BJP’s winning margin on nearly 50 seats were less than 5,000 votes.

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister also alleged that the BJP-led state government is “stealing” EVMs and a truck with voting machines was caught in Varanasi.

Accusing “some political parties” of “spreading rumours”, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said the EVMs used in the elections “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 political parties”. The EVMs, he added, were going to a local college from the storage area at the Mandi counting centre.

Later, Mr Sharma also said the vehicle carrying 20 EVMs that was zeroed on by the workers “is here” and can be checked 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 created,” he added.

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Appearing before the media, Akhilesh Yadav, however, staunchly 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 last election, the BJP had won 47 seats with a margin 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 happening is sidestepped,” 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.

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Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief and Akhilesh Yadav ally Om Prakash Rajbhar said he “doesn’t believe a word” of the magistrate’s explanation. The alliance has complained to the Election Commission, which has assured them of action, said SP state president Naresh Uttam Patel and party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.

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The Samajwadi Party plans to file a petition in the high court on the issue tomorrow, sources said.

The counting of votes for the mammoth seven-phase elections in Uttar Pradesh will take place on Thursday. The Samajwadi Party has claimed that it will win and form government in the state, where the BJP is hoping for another term in power.

All exit polls, however, have predicted a BJP victory. An aggregate of ten exit polls yesterday indicated that the BJP may win 240-plus of the state’s 403 assembly seats, comfortably above the halfway mark. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party may win 130-plus seats, the exit polls indicated..

Mr Yadav, however, has been positive, tweeting “We are forming government” as the elections ended yesterday.

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