Tamil Nadu

Minister moves HC over counting of votes

Transport Minister M.R. Vijayabhaskar, who has contested from Karur Assembly constituency, has moved the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to follow a slew of measures aimed at ensuring fairness in the counting of votes on May 2. Since as many as 77 candidates had contested in his constituency, the Minister insisted upon proper display and tallying of votes.

The case filed by the Minister has been listed for admission before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy on Monday. In his affidavit, he pointed out that too many counting agents would be present at the counting centre since the number of candidates were too high. He claimed that it would take more than 20 hours to count the votes in 25 rounds. Pointing out that the State government had imposed several restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including a complete lockdown on Sundays, Mr. Vijayabhaskar said the Chief Electoral Officer had nevertheless said that the lockdown would not apply on the day of counting despite it falling on a Sunday. Therefore, he insisted on following a series of measures to be followed at the counting centre.

The Minister wanted the counting agents of recognised political parties to be seated on the front table in the counting halls, the votes polled by each candidate to be displayed, announced and tallied clearly during every round and not to begin the next round without the consent of all agents. He insisted on installing more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the counting centre and ensuring maximum surveillance.

“Police protection must be increased to ensure public peace and safety. All persons entering the counting station should be thoroughly checked and no one with any weapon or sharp object or any other object that could be potentially used as a weapon should be permitted. Persons who had consumed alcohol should not be permitted inside the counting premises,” the affidavit filed by the petitioner read.

He, however, said the counting agents should be allowed to carry towels, calculators and writing pads (with or without clips) inside the counting halls. He claimed that it might not be possible to maintain physical distance if the counting of votes for Karur constituency was held in just two counting halls and said the number of halls must be increased to three and that the agents must be provided with hand sanitisers.

The Minister also insisted that the counting should be stopped during lunch time and claimed that it might lead to chaos if food and refreshments were not provided at the right time. He wanted catering passes to be issued to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party workers so that they could supply food to his agents who would not be allowed to leave until the counting gets completed.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 5:08:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamil-nadu-assembly/minister-moves-hc-over-counting-of-votes/article34409682.ece

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