Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 18:
Tension ran high in the state capital on Thursday night as the people and Congress and BJP workers alleged illegal exchange of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in two polling booths during the second phase of polls in Odisha.
According to reports, people in Jharpada area protested at the Jharpada High School against the negligence of the polling officials who did not seal the EVM machines for over three hours after the polling was over at 6 PM.
Meanwhile, Pramod Kumar Samal, a poll observer, arrived at the polling booth in an Indigo car with some EVMs.
Suspecting foul play, the irate locals then sought an explanation from the polling officer.
Talking to the newsmen, the BJP candidate Jagannath Pradhan said while the polling officials handed over a copy of the proof of the three sealed EVMs, they did not give the same for the EVMs in the three remaining booths.
Alleging that the polling official had brought three EVMs to exchange them with the three EVMs at the three polling booths, the BJP workers asked the official to examine the three EVMs in his vehicle.
However, Samal clarified them that he had kept the three EVMs as reserve in case of any trouble with the EVMs in these booths.
Following information, Laxmisagar police rushed to the spot. At about 1 AM, DCP Nitinjit Singh, ADM and Returning Officer Manoj Patnaik, senior BJP leader Samir Mohanty and BJP candidate of Bhubaneswar-Ekamra constituency Amiya Das arrived at the high school campus and checked all EVMs and found them sealed in the presence of the locals after which normalcy was restored.
In another incident, the Congress workers alleged poll irregularities against the polling officials in the polling booths at the Primary School at Acharya Vihar in the city.
Talking to the newsmen, Congress candidate Suvendhu Mohanty said the polling officials asked the polling agents to vacate the booth soon after the polling was over.
He also said despite repeated reminders that the EVMs at the booth was out of order, the polling officials did not pay any heed.
Alleging that the slum dwellers were forced to cast their vote to the ruling BJD under pressure from polling officials, Mohanty demanded repolling in this booth and stern action against the polling officials.