Against the backdrop of allegations by the opposition of irregularities in the counting of votes in the Bihar Assembly polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Thursday said while the Election Commission does not react to comments made by political parties, the ultimate decision lies with people. He also said the Bihar chief electoral officer has already responded to everything. The EC had to hold four press conferences on counting day on November 10 to respond to various aspects of the process, Arora pointed out.
“We do not respond to comments made by political entities. It is their decision, what they said, why they said. The ultimate decision lies with people,” he told reporters here. Responding to a query on the “slow pace of counting”, Arora said keeping in mind the distancing norms in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of voters per polling station was restricted to 1,000 instead of the usual 1,500. This had resulted in an increase of 33,000 polling stations. This time, Bihar had over one lakh polling stations. More poling stations meant the use of 63 per cent additional electronic voting machines (EVMs).
The number of counting tables per hall was also halved to seven instead of 14 and the number of counting locations also increased from 38 to 55. The counting of votes, which began at 8 am on November 10, continued till the wee hours of November 11.
Arora, along with fellow election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar, paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat. He said the poll panel had paid tributes to Gandhi after the successful completion of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“Today, the commission came to thank the Father of the Nation for the successful completion of the Bihar polls as they were held in the shadow of COVID-19,” the CEC said.