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Repoll ordered in 49 polling booths in Bhandara

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
By Prashant Hamine

EC directs transfer of Gondiya Dist Collector following widespread EVM malfunction

Taking note following widespread criticism over malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency that went to polls on May 28, the Election Commission of India (ECI) yesterday announced re-polling at 49 polling booths in five of the six assembly segments. Polling will now be held on May 30, while counting of votes will be taken up on May 31 along with Palghar (ST) constituency. In doing so the ECI has also directed Gondiya District Collector and Election Returning Officer (ERO), Abhimanyu Kale be transferred. Nagpur Zilla Parishad Chief Executive Officer Kadambari Bhagat-Balkavde will take over the charge of ERO from Kale and conduct the by-poll process.

The unceremonious transfer of Kale from the hot-seat was because of the widespread malfunctioning of EVMs in 49 polling booths across Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency. The large scale malfunctioning in EVMs and VVPAT machines had led to delay in completing the poll process on time. No re-polling has been ordered in Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency. As per the final polling percentage in both the Lok Sabha constituencies as on May 28, it was 53.22 percent in Palghar (ST) and 53.15 percent in Bhandara-Gondiya constituency.

The extent of malfunctioning in EVMs can be gauged from the fact that barring Tumsar assembly segment, EVM malfunctioning was reported in Bhandara (SC), Sakoli, Arjuni-Morgaon (SC), Tirora and Gondiya. Re-polling has been ordered in 14 polling booths in Bhandara (SC), 4 in Sakoli, 2 in Arjuni-Morgaon (SC), 8 in Tirora and 21 in Gondiya. Barring Arjuni-Morgaon (SC) where polling is to be held in just two polling booths, polling will take place between 7 am to 3 pm, whereas in the rest of the four assembly segments the polling hours will be between 7 am to 6 pm.

As per the ECI order the Ring finger of the left hand will be used for marking the indelible ink mark for voters casting their ballot. The ECI has also asked the Returning Officer and poll machinery officials to give widespread publicity on the re-polling by beating of drums in areas where the re-polling is being held. In Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency by-poll it is a direct contest between BJPs Hemant Patle and NCPs Madhukar Kukde.  

Meanwhile, state Nationalist Congress Party has demanded a detailed probe into reports of EVM machines being allegedly found in a private vehicle in Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency yesterday. He said that after the polling was over the EVMs were found in a private vehicle which raises suspicion that something fishy was going on.

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