Seeks a probe into programming of the machines, which they say was done in Ahmedabad

Days after the Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in the Rajasthan Assembly election, the party demanded an enquiry into Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) programmed in Ahmedabad that were used during the polls.

The Congress’s Legal and Election management committee filed a complaint with the Election Commission on Thursday, casting aspersions on the functionality of the EVMs, and seeking a probe by high-level technical experts into their programming.

“There have been complaints from several party workers and candidates belonging to different Assembly constituencies that the programming for these machines had been tampered with,” Sushil Sharma, president of the Congress’s legal and election management committee.

“It has also come to our notice that the machines were programmed in Ahmedabad, which is an area of influence of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, which means there was a very real possibility of the machines’s programming being tampered with,” said Mr. Sharma.

The Congress also alleged several other lapses in the poll process, including bulk distribution of voting lists to one person, hazy photographs on voter ID cards and security personnel at polling booths not checking any ID proof.

The party also cast doubts on the unprecedented voter turnout in the assembly polls. “There has never been such a wide difference between the winning and defeated parties, be it 1977 polls or post-war 1972 polls ... even in Delhi, the national capital, where there is high voter awareness, such high turnout did not occur,” complained Mr. Sharma.

He welcomed the EC’s campaign to spread voting awareness. “But in its garb several lower level EC officials like BLOs and booth staff helped spurious voting in the favour of the BJP,” he added.

The Election Commission confirmed the receipt of the complaint and said it was looking into the matter. When asked if it was possible to tamper with the programming of EVMs, Rajasthan’s Chief Election Officer Ashok Jain said: “According to us, it is not possible. The EVMs are thoroughly checked, randomised before being used in the polls. The representatives of all political parties are given an opportunity to check these machines ... whether any of them are not there is a different matter, but they are given an opportunity.”

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