Bhopal: As the Lok Sabha elections are in the last leg, the focus of the politically charged atmosphere in Bhopal has shifted to the strongroom where the Electronic Voting Machines have been kept.
About half a dozen workers of the BJP and the RSS are stationed in a room adjacent to the strongroom at Old Jail Bhopal and are keeping round-the-clock vigil. The premises have been cordoned-off ever since the EVMs were brought here after voting on May 12.
The men change duties in shifts and keep monitoring the LED screens showing live footage of inside the strongroom.
“We are here since May 13 after EVMs arrived,” said Pappu Vilas, former BJP corporator who heads the team manning the supervising duty for Pragya Thakur. He confirmed that Thakur had visited the strongroom on Tuesday night. The RSS, following controversial statements from Thakur post her nomination, had deployed volunteers from across the country to oversee her campaign.
Digvijaya Singh, however, hasn’t visited the strong room.
On being asked what made the BJP to guard the strongroom, Vilas pointed towards Congress leader Syed Shahid Hussain, saying they started this trend. The Congress workers, led by Hussain, had guarded the EVMs during Assembly polls in 2018.
Hussain confirmed that the Congress workers were present outside the strongroom until counting last year, claiming they did not believe the then BJP government.
In small groups, we are allowed to visit the strong room few times daily, Hussain said.
Sources claimed that both the party candidates are seeking regular updates from the strongroom.
The authorities have cordoned off the area with heavy barricading at the entrance. Only authorised persons are allowed to enter as authorities are busy making arrangements for the counting on May 23.
The Central para-military troops are guarding the inner circle of security in Old Jail, while the outer security is with the State Armed Force personnel and district police. Senior police officers are also present inside the venue to keep a tab on security measures.
The Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency witnessed over 65% polling and observers are expecting a tough contest here that is evoking attention from across the nation.