In a bizzare move, the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Satyabrata Sahoo on Tuesday moved 50 Electronic Voting Machines and VVPATs from Coimbatore to Theni district, 20 days after the close of the election, without any notice to political parties.
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son is a candidate in the Theni Lok Sabha polls. Congress candidate of DMK front E V K S Elangovan said this was a move to stuff the ballot after the poll as his rival, Pannerselvam’s son, was facing certain defeat.
The opposition political parties condemned the “secretive manoeuvre” of the CEO and demanded an explanation from him. They also laid siege to the tehsildar office in Theni. Satyabrata Sahoo told reporters on Tuesday that so far 50 EVM ballot units have been shifted from Coimbatore to Theni and 20 unused VVPATs moved from Coimbatore to Erode. He said “these ballot units may be put to use if re-poll is ordered in any booth,” he said.
He said he had recommended repoll in 46 booths to the Election Commission. “Without announcing the dates for re-polls, the EC should not move the EVMs,” said T.K.S. Elangovan, organisation secretary of the DMK. Why was the election official was recommending repoll when no party, including the AIADMK ,had demanded it. “When no political parties have demanded re-polls, why are the EVMs being shifted,” he asked.
Sahoo told reporters on Wednesday that there were problems in as many as 46 booths across 13 districts and the officials had recommended to the EC to order repoll in these booths.
The opposition also questioned the shifting of the voting machines without the knowledge of candidates. They alleged that only the BJP candidate and independents had signed in the papers relating to shifting of these machines, they alleged.
In a statement, Stalin said a new Chief Electoral Officer should be appointed for Tamil Nadu as people had lost confidence in Sahoo . He also demanded special police protection for the machines till counting is over on May 23.