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New Delhi: Ahead of the counting of votes on Thursday, March 10, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has made sensational claims of “EVM fraud” and “vote theft” in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, March 8, in Lucknow, Yadav said, “Varanasi DM [district magistrate] is transporting EVMs without giving any information to local candidates. The Election Commission (EC) should look into it. We need to be alert if the EVMs are being transported this way. This is theft. We need to save our votes. We may go to court against it but before that, I want to appeal to people to save the democracy.”
Yadav’s serious allegations come after videos emerged on social media on Tuesday showing EVMs being transported in trucks. However, The Wire has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of these videos.
“In Varanasi, we intercepted one truck, and two trucks fled. 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. “Now that the EVMs have been caught, the officials will make multiple excuses…”
The instructions, the SP chief alleged, were specifically given to 47 seats which the BJP had won in the last state assembly polls with a margin of fewer than 5,000 votes.
As most exit polls predict a comfortable victory for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the SP chief said, “Exit polls are adding to the perception that the BJP is winning and any theft that may be happening is sidestepped.”
“This is the last fight to save democracy,” he declared.
However, Kaushal Raj Sharma, district magistrate of Varanasi, accused Yadav of “spreading rumours”. Sharma added that those EVMs transported were used for training purposes and not the ones where votes were cast.
“[EVMs used in 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,” Sharma clarified.
Meanwhile, exit polls released on Monday, March 7, after the conclusion of elections in five states predicted a clear victory for BJP in Uttar Pradesh. An aggregate of 10 exit polls, according to NDTV, indicated that the BJP is likely to emerge victorious in 240 plus seats out of 403 assembly segments. They predict the tally of the Samajwadi Party – the main challenger of the BJP – to hover around 130 seats.
(With PTI inputs)