“We have information that EVMs were swapped”: Suvendu Adhikari

News Desk: Electronic voting machines (EVM) were swapped after the October 30 bypolls at four assembly seats in Bengal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Suvendu Adhikari alleged on Sunday, questioning the unprecedented margins of victory recorded by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

“Is it possible for anyone to secure 84% votes in an assembly seat? We have information that EVMs were swapped. The EVMs in Gosaba were swapped with machines brought from Behala (in Kolkata). We have tracked everything” Adhikari said in his address at a party meeting held at the auditorium of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in Kolkata.

The TMC not only secured 75% of the votes polled in the four seats of Dinhata, Santipur, Khardah and Gosaba, but also created history at South 24 Parganas district’s Gosaba by securing 87.19% votes.

The BJP, which won the Dinhata seat by 57 votes and Santipur by 15878 votes in the March-April election, lost the seats by 164,089 and 64,675 votes respectively. Polls in Dinhata and Santipur had to be held because the winners, Nisith Pramanik and Jagannath Sarkar, decided to retain their Lok Sabha seats.

At Khardah and Gosaba, where polls were held because the TMC’s winning candidates died, the BJP lost by 93,832 and 143,051 votes respectively. The BJP candidates in Gosaba, Dinhata and Khardah forfeited their deposits.

Although several BJP leaders accused the TMC of not allowing people to cast their votes freely, this is the first time the leader of the opposition in the Bengal assembly brought serious charges of electoral malpractice. He, however, did not name anyone as a suspect.

Referring to some polling booths at Santipur in Nadia district, Adhikari said, “If one goes by the results, then even votes cast by BJP district office bearers and their families do not reflect in the final tally. How is that possible?”

At all four seats, which are located in districts lying along the Bangladesh border, the BJP made the communal attacks during Durga puja in the neighbouring country an issue. Adhikari, while attending a campaign, had said “The attack on minority Hindus in Bangladesh will increase the BJP’s margin of victory in Santipur three times”

Since the polls were conducted by the Election Commission of India amid tight security provided by 95 companies of Central armed police forces, the TMC took on Adhikari.

“Has Adhikari registered his allegation against the EC? We did not conduct the polls. If the bypoll results cannot be trusted then we should suspect foul play in the Nandigram polls as well” said transport minister Firhad Hakim.

During the March-April polls, Adhikari defeated Mamata Banerjee at his Nandigram seat. She had to face the Bhawanipore bypoll on September 30 to get elected to the assembly and continue as chief minister. Banerjee challenged the Nandigram results in court.

No EC official could be contacted for official comment on Adhikari’s allegation.

Bengal BJP leaders also did not react to Adhikari’s allegation till Sunday night.

The poll results were discussed on Sunday at the meeting of the BJP’s central executive body held in Delhi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.