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‘It's Always Hot in Maharashtra’: Gadkari Says Appalled by Poll Body’s EVM Failure Reasoning, Seeks Probe

The union minister said the BJP government should not be blamed for the mistakes of the autonomous Election Commission.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:May 30, 2018, 6:39 PM IST
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‘It's Always Hot in Maharashtra’: Gadkari Says Appalled by Poll Body’s EVM Failure Reasoning, Seeks Probe
File photo of Union minister Nitin Gadkari (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Union minister Nitin Gadkari has criticised the Election Commission for failing to conduct bypolls in Maharashtra in a fair manner but said the BJP or the Narendra Modi government should not be dragged into the controversy as it is an autonomous body.

In an interview to CNN-News18’s Marya Shakil, Gadkari said he was “appalled” by the reason given by the poll body that EVMs and VVPAT machines failed because of the excessive heat and dust in the region.

“I was in Bhandhara at the time. So many EVMs were shut or didn’t work and they are saying (it’s) because of heat. What do they mean due to heat? It was always hot here,” he said.

The minister’s response came after a virulent attack by the Shiv Sena on the Election Commission, saying that it had become a “mistress” to those in power, hinting that the EVMs were corrupted in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha bypolls on the bidding of the ruling party.

The EC has been facing the heat from all quarters for the EVM malfunction and it had to order repolling in 49 booths in Bhandara-Gondia. In Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana too, it had to order repolling in 73 booths. But it clarified that the snags were not in EVMs, but in newly-introduced VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines.

This is the first time that a cabinet minister has taken on the EC for faulty EVMs amid the onslaught by the opposition, which has once again raked up its demand for conducting elections via paper ballots.

Gadkari said that it was true that many EVMs were not working and the Election Commission should order an immediate inquiry into the incident.

“If the election commission has any problems, it is there fault. It is not a good thing. The election commission is responsible for that. If such mistakes happen, I think they should have an inquiry,” he said.

But he was quick to make it clear that the BJP government should not be blamed for the mistakes of the poll body. “The Election commission is an autonomous body. It’s not a part of BJP Government nor do we control them. We never interfered in the work, so if any mistake happens, they are responsible for it. Blaming our government is wrong,” he said.

“How is Modi ji related to this? How is BJP related to this or how am I related to this or how is the government related to this?” he asked.

On the allegations levelled by the Shiv Sena, Gadkari said that the party is still a part of the government at the Centre and in Maharashtra and can’t play the role of an opposition party too.

He also said that the opposition parties only blame the EVMs when they lose elections. “When Congress won in Punjab EVMs were nice, when in Karnataka we didn’t get the majority the EVMs were nice again, but when they lose elections EVMs are not good,” he retorted.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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