Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 31:
The elections are over, the votes counted, the winners announced and the new Odisha government already in place. But the one thing that has gone virtually unnoticed in the clutter of figures is the discrepancies and downright errors in the number of votes shown as polled in various constituencies. The discrepancies are glaring enough and the errors serious enough to bring into question the veracity of the whole election outcome.
Everyone knows that the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Odisha, like its counterparts in all other states in the country, acts as the field officer of the Election Commission of India (ECI) during elections. That is why it is beyond comprehension how the votes shown as polled in various constituencies in the CEO, Odisha site, ceoorissa.nic.in can differ so drastically from the final figures uploaded on the ECI website: eciresults.nic.in.
The difference in figures between the two sites reaches a mind boggling 16, 000 + in some cases, enough to constitute the difference between winning and losing in tightly contested constituencies.
Take the case of the Lanjigarh Assembly constituency, for example. While the figures on the ceoorissa.nic.in site show 1, 41, 088 people as having voted in the constituency, the voting figures uploaded on the ECI website shows 1, 49, 591 – a difference of 8, 503 votes!
Interestingly, there is no discrepancy between the number of registered voters, number of male registered voters and the number of female registered voters between the two sites, which makes the difference in the number of people who voted all the more baffling. For the record, the final tally uploaded on the ECI site after the counting of votes shows the following break-up.
BJD 65033, Congress 40138, BJP 26744, Samrudha Odisha 2094, BSP 2045, AAP 1771, Bahujan Mukti Party 1603, SP 1313, AOP 1204, OJM 1099, CPI (ML) 1091, SKD 674 and NOTA 4782, which together add up to 1,49,591 votes. But the figure on the CEO site simply says 1, 41,088 persons voted in the constituency without giving any break-up.
Lanjigarh, however, appears small change when compared to the differences in the number of persons shown as having voted in the two sites. The difference is as much as 12, 578 In Rajnagar Assembly constituency in Kendrapara district and an unbelievable 16, 213 in Rajgangpur in Sundargarh district.
Overall, there is a difference of 95812 votes between the two sets of figures – one on the CEO website and the other on the ECI site – on the number of persons shown as having voted in the 147 Assembly constituencies that went to polls in two phases on April 10 and 17 this year.
While both the sites show that a total 214,36,553 persons, including 109,98,963 males and 104,37,534 females, voted in the 147 segments, the final tally uploaded after the declaration of results on the ECI website adds up to 2, 15,32,365.
Opposition leaders have predictably pounced on these glaring discrepancies to question the results of the elections. The differences in the figures have convinced them that their apprehensions of manipulation of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were not unfounded after all.
A senior Congress leader who was defeated by a narrow margin has called for a high level probe into the discrepancies.
“Let the Election Commission call for a thorough probe. We want to know if the total number of votes cast in each booth matches the number of votes counted for that booth. We also want the Commission to see if there is a pattern to the proportion of votes that have gone to the ruling BJD as compared to other contestants in at least 50 constituencies. We suspect the EVM machines were geared to cast a certain percentage of votes to the ruling party and the rest were distributed among other contestants in a fixed manner. We think this pattern can be established in a number of constituencies if experts with mathematical skills are engaged to study the figures,” he said.
The baffling discrepancies have called into serious question the conduct of the elections in a free and fair manner by the CEO’s office.