Mumbai Congress President Milind M. Deora on Tuesday expressed apprehensions about the safety and security of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) stored at various strongrooms for the city's six Lok Sabha seats ahead of the counting on May 23.
In a letter to the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and Mumbai Police Commissioner, he said "shocking information has been received about the possibility of tampering with EVMs in view of certain strange developments from the vicinity of the strongrooms".
"Congress workers who are constantly looking after these (counting) centres from outside have informed us of some suspicious movements of few persons and few vehicles around these centres," Deora, who is in the fray from Mumbai South constituency, said.
He said that such questionable movements of persons and vehicles have created definite doubts and fears about the safety and security of the EVMs stored there for the May 23 vote count.
Deora urged the CEO to increase vigilance and security at all the counting centres to ensure that EVMs are not tinkered with in any manner.
He also urged the CEO to permit party volunteers to remain outside the counting centres, and provide the password of the CCTVs installed, so that the party volunteers can monitor them along with the security personnel round-the-clock.
Even as reports of alleged meddling with EVMs emanated from different parts of India, party's Mumbai North West candidate Sanjay Nirupam visited the counting centre in Goregaon east and personally monitored the safety and security status there.
"The next two nights before the counting day are critical. All party workers and the people must keep vigil to find out whether the Bharatiya Janata Party activists are indulging in any mischief," he said.
Nirupam also demanded that the Election Commission must clarify whether all votes would be recounted in case of a mismatch between the voting figures in the EVMs and the VVPATs.
"In such an eventuality, all the VVPATs must be counted and the EC must issue written orders to all Returning Officers, or it will create suspicions," Nirupam said.
Responding to the recent exit poll projections, Nirupam said: "Its clear that the biggest beneficiaries of the exit polls are stock market operators. Sensex is up by 2,000 points in just two days. The SEBI must set up an enquiry to probe the links between the beneficiaries and the (exit) poll agencies, leading to the sudden flare-up in the markets."
Meanwhile, an official from the CEO said that all arrangements have been made for the vote counting on Thursday for all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
"The vote count will begin with postal and defence personnel votes at 8 a.m., then after that the EVMs shall be opened and the votes therein counted," said the official.
The vote count will be held at three specific centres in the city - at Sewri for Mumbai South and Mumbai South Central, NSE Grounds Goregaon for Mumbai North, Mumbai North West and Mumbai North Central seats) and the Godrej Campus in Vikhroli for Mumbai North East - amidst full security.
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