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Why final results were delayed in MP

Last updated on: December 13, 2018 00:02 IST

Cautious approach of the Election Commission, thin margins of leads, counting of paper trail machines slips and "trivial" objections raised by candidates were some of the key factors which led to delayed poll results in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, sources in the poll panel said Wednesday.

IMAGE: Security personnel stand guard as postal ballots are carried inside central jail in Bhopal. Photograph: PTI Photo

A final picture in the two states emerged early Wednesday.

The sources pointed out that with parties blaming the electronic voting machines, the poll panel was extra cautious in its approach.

The chief electoral officers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram were reminded of an old rule that they had to provide round-wise results to candidates without fail.

Referring to its April 2014 instruction, the poll panel had said observers and returning officers would sign candidate-wise results for the round after checking everything.

 

They would "ensure that the results of that round of counting are immediately displayed prominently on the blackboard/whiteboard," the poll panel had said in its December 7 letter.

A senior official said Wednesday, "The lead margins were thin and stakes high for all parties. The candidates were not leaving anything to chance. This (the system) ensured that very few demands were made for a recount. But yes, it delayed the counting process."

The official said this move helped in preventing confusion and allaying fears that unfair means were adopted.

He pointed out that right from the first round of EVM counting at 8.30am, the candidates were very particular about checking and examining every seal, tag and serial number of the EVMs and their cases being brought to the counting tables.

"In several cases, they raised trivial objections on the seals, serial number/tag number, signatures of polling staff on the tags, which required the intervention, explaining and convincing by the returning officer before the EVMs were taken up for counting. Even though no EVM was kept aside or found tampered amongst the 66,000 EVMs taken up for counting, the process of objections slowed down the rounds.

In about 250 cases out of 66,000 EVMs taken up to counting, the presiding officers had not followed the Close-Result-Clear after the mock poll done in the morning of the poll day.

This meant that the result of these particular EVMs had to be obtained through the counting of the VVPAT slips. Most assembly constituencies had 1-2 such cases which meant that after the last round of the counting, an additional round was done for the counting of the VVPATs slips in the CRC cases. "This added one hour to the counting process," the official said.

In the run of up to the assembly elections, Madhya Pradesh added about 13,000 (21 per cent) additional polling stations as compared to the previous elections.

This has increased the average number of rounds of counting to 22, whereas states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana had 18 to 19 rounds, the official pointed out.

Another key factor, the official said was matching of EVM results with slips of paper trail machines. While paper trail machines were used in all polling stations, its results were matched with EVMs in only one polling station per assembly constituency.

"It takes 45 minutes to one hour to count slips. The slips are small like an ATM slip. You can't afford to lose one," the official said.

The Congress, which was locked in a tantalising see-saw battle with the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, emerged as the single-largest party with 114 seats after the vote count ended Wednesday morning.

In Chhattisgarh, the Congress won 68 seats in the 90-member Assembly, while the BJP has been relegated to a distant second spot, winning just 15 seats, according to the results available Wednesday.

In Rajasthan, the Congress emerged as the single-largest party Wednesday, winning 99 seats, while the BJP got 73.

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