By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: Post-poll tension is more palpable in Madhya Pradesh than was the case during the election campaign. Allegations about EVMs security and the role of election authorities have further muddled the scene, with both Congress and the BJP playing the victim card. Among the aggrieved is Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan, who has gone to the extent of describing Election Commission as inhuman.
Congress has made several allegations about the safety of EVMs. In the light of one such allegation, the Election Commission (EC) ordered removal of the returning officer of Khurai constituency in Sagar district – the constituency from where home minister Bhupendra Singh contested the election. The commission ordered the removal of returning officer of Khurai and SDO revenue Vikas Singh and directed that Tanvi Hooda, IAS, who is ADM Sagar, take charge as returning officer Khurai till the completion of the election process. General Administration Department (GAD) also issued orders for the removal of Vikas Singh from Khurai. Now Singh will be posted in the secretariat.
A controversy erupted when Congress workers in Sagar were surprised to find EVMs reaching district headquarters on November 30 some 48 hours after polling ended. Even as they launched a protest, the administration said all these were standby EVMs to be used in case of technical snags in the original machines.
The Congress lodged strong protests after postal ballots were found in the Police headquarters at Bhopal. Polled and blank ballot papers were found in the office of home guard on Tuesday. The election office clarified that three polled, sealed postal ballots, to be delivered to government employees, were found in the canteen of home guard headquarters and had since been handed over to the returning officer of Govindpura. Meanwhile, 74 blank postal ballots were found undelivered despite having names and addresses on them. Disciplinary action is being taken against the officials concerned.
A delegation of Congress met the Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh and threatened to sit on dharna if no action was taken on its complaints. The party alleged that the commission was not working in a transparent manner to ensure free and fair elections in the state.
The BJP is also not sparing the Election Commission. After the saffron party chastised the EC over allowing unauthorised Congressmen into the EVM strong room in Bhopal, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed the action of EC in not allowing him to visit the house of a deceased acquaintance as ‘inhuman’, but hastened to add that he did not complain. The EC told him that no outsider could be allowed in any constituency, the CM said.
In the midst of allegations and counter-allegations Sindhi community held a dharna and downed shutters of their shops on Wednesday to vent their anger against BJP legislator Rameshwar Sharma, who is alleged to have made derogatory remarks against the community. Sharma is seeking election from one of the Bhopal constituencies. Sindhi Samaj members also organised dharna and staged chakka jam. Members of the community said they would now stage dharna at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi if no legal action was taken against Sharma.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that he summoned the MLA and questioned him regarding the matter. “He (Sharma) denied making any such comment. However, the issue is being looked into,” Chouhan told journalists. He said action would be taken if Sharma is found guilty.
Bhagwandas Israni, Chairman of Sindhi Central Panchayat and former principal secretary of MP Vidhan Sabha, said that he would demand national executive of the BJP to take concrete action against the MLA and expel him from the party. Israni said the legislator would not be forgiven even if he seeks forgiveness.
In a tape that went viral on social media, Sharma is heard making an objectionable remark. The tape’s authenticity is yet to be determined but the community staged demonstrations at some places. Sharma also organised a Sarv Hindu Samaj Sammelan in Bairagarh and said his fake audio has been released. “I apologise if a comment by me has hurt any section of society,” he said, adding that some people were still trying to create rift by misguiding members of Sindhi community despite his apologising. Sharma said his life is dedicated to Hindu unity and that he was ready to apologise even from the forum from where he was being condemned. He said the audio was fake but he had still extended his apologies to the community.
Sharma accused Congress of orchestrating a campaign against him. The politician alleged that Congress workers were behind the incident. “I have myself lodged a police complaint and urge checking the tape’s authenticity,” Sharma told a news channel.