The first phase of polling in Jammu’s Poonch area got heated up with EVM malfunction allegations by the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Congress buttons were not working in at least 6-7 machines in Poonch and Mendhar belt of the constituency. The National Conference’s Jammu provincial president Davinder Singh Rana also accused that the uniformed personnel in Poonch’s Arai Malka area coerced people to vote for BJP and manhandled them when the voters denied the same.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted a video showing the voters raising anti-BJP slogans after they were purportedly roughed up by the BSF for not voting for the BJP. “A voter at polling booth in Jammu was manhandled by the BSF because he refused to cast his vote for BJP. Using armed forces at polling stations to coerce people to vote for the BJP shows their desperation & hunger to usurp power by hook or crook,” she wrote in her tweet. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also confirmed the allegation with a tweet where he posted a video where a Presiding Officer is heard sharing the issues around the faulty EVMs and delay in polling procedure as its consequence.
The officer was heard saying that the polling process started on time and there’s no shortage of staff. Elaborating the reason behind the delay, he said, “A button on a ballot unit is not working. There is no other problem… We can’t say the reason why one button is not working.”
When pressed further, the officer said, “The fourth button is not working… one with the Hand symbol).” ‘Haath’ or Hand is the election symbol of the Congress. Besides that, a member of the crowd around the officer is heard saying, “If it was one or two machines we would have understood but there are reports of so many machines are malfunctioning.”
The District Election Officer Rahul Yadav spoke to ANI and confirmed that the faulty EVMs were replaced.
91 Lok sabha constituencies across 18 states and two union territories including seven of Maharashtra went to polls on Thursday in the first phase of the parliamentary elections. Indians turned out in comparatively in larger numbers to vote in the first of the seven-phased general elections. Long queue of enthusiastic voters were seen outside the pooling booths in different corners of the country. Two Parliamentary constituencies — Baramulla and Jammu — out of total six in the Jammu and Kashmir witnessed polls on Thursday. The state recorded 46.17 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm. Poonch is part of the Jammu Lok Sabha seat where sitting BJP lawmaker Jugal Kishore Sharma is contesting with Congress’ Raman Bhalla. The fight is looked as a tougher one as the National Conference has extended its support to the Congress candidate while the PDP has also decided not to field any candidate from the Jammu region.
The Jammu seat has the highest number of 24 candidates in the state in these polls. The constituency, spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Poonch, and Rajouri and covering 20 assembly segments, was won by BJP’s Jugal Kishore in the 2014 general elections; Kishore defeated veteran Congress leader and two-time MP Madan Lal Sharma by a margin of over 2.57 lakh votes.