South First
Bhaskar Basava

The Left party sought to know how the number of voters increased by over 85,000 in the Dhule constituency in Maharashtra in 24 hours.

Almost a week after the Supreme Court sought a response from the Election Commission (EC) on the release of voter turnout data, the CPI(M) in Maharashtra on Wednesday, 22 April, pointed out a huge difference in data released by the poll body.

The Left party sought to know how the number of voters increased by over 85,000 in the Dhule constituency in Maharashtra in a span of 24 hours.

“Appreciate Returning Officer Shri Abhinav Goel for providing updated Format A and B of total votes polled in 02 Dhule PC. Why is there an increase of 85,943 total votes polled in 24 hours @CEO_Maharashtra?” the CPI(M) asked on X.

In Dhule, the returning officer noted a total turnout of 11,31,580 voters at 9 pm on 20 May — the polling day of the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

However, in the final data released a day later, the total turnout recorded was 12,17,523, an increase of almost 5 percent.

‘Abnormal increase’

KK Shailaja — Kerala MLA and CPI(M) central committee member — noted an “abnormal” increase in the approximate data and final figures furnished by the EC and said the party suspected malpractice.

The Opposition bloc INDIA has been alleging that the EC has been acting in a partisan manner towards the BJP.

The CPI(M) — a constituent of the Opposition alliance — claimed that there were huge variations in the data furnished by the EC after each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to South First, CPI(M) Maharashtra secretary Uday Narkar said, “In the first four phases (of the Lok Sabha elections), there is a huge variation between the figures furnished by the EC soon after polling and the data released later.”

The EC released the final turnout data 11 days after polling day for the first phase, and four days after polling for phases two, three, and four.

“This data reveals a difference of 1.07 crore votes compared to the earlier approximate trends,” he said.

“We wrote to the EC to furnish the poll data with absolute numbers at the booth level. The booth-level data is already with them, which is how they provided the figures but they are not releasing it. We are waiting for their reply,” Narkar said.

Noting the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC) promise of a “free and fair” Lok Sabha elections, he said, “We have a fair expectation to receive absolute numbers.”

‘Something strange is happening’

Speaking to South First, Shailaja — contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Vadakara constituency in Kerala — said, “Something very strange is happening with the Election Commission throughout the current phases of voting. The difference between the approximate and final figures shows an abnormal increase.”

“Our leaders have noted that the difference between the approximate and final numbers is increasing. Although there have been differences before, earlier cases were not like this. As this is happening across India, we suspect some malpractice behind it. This needs to be investigated,” she noted.

On 17 May, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra had heard the plea of the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on the issue.

The CJI said the poll panel be given some reasonable time to respond to the plea and listed it for hearing before an appropriate bench during the summer vacation on 24 May, a day before the sixth phase of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls.

The NGO had filed an interim application in its 2019 PIL seeking directions to the poll panel that “scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded)” of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls.

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