Haryana Vidhan Sabha Secretary and Returning Officer for the recently-held Rajya Sabha polls for the two seats in the state today said a sketch pen had been provided to the legislators to mark their votes and the entire process was videographed.
Returning Officer R K Nandal sm the Election Commission. aid the results were declared late in the night on Saturday after due permission from the election.
Notably, Congress today approached the Election Commission to demand countermanding of the election to both Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana, alleging a “conspiracy” by BJP-RSS that led to the defeat of a candidate, backed by the party and the main opposition INLD, under controversial circumstances.
The INLD also shot off a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner today, saying the party is convinced that the matter calls for a thorough inquiry and it is in the interest of democracy to get to the bottom of the truth.
Nandal said that the polling and counting of votes had been videographed.
“On part of the Assembly and Assembly Secretariat the videography was done. The results were declared with due permission of the Election Commission,” Nandal told PTI.
He said in addition to the staff of the Assembly secretariat, officials from the Election Commission were also present in the room where polling was taking place in one corner.
“Haryana’s Chief Electoral Officer was the lead observer. Besides, Additional CEO from the state was also present along with him right from 8 AM to 11 PM on Saturday,” he said.
Asked to comment on allegations being made by opposition parties that someone had changed the original pen provided by the election officials with another one for a while which resulted in some votes being declared as invalid, Nandal said, “I cannot comment on what political parties or individual MLAs are saying.”
At the same time, he said, “We had arranged a pen, which was tied to a thread. It was a sketch pen with violet ink, with which all 90 MLAs were supposed to mark their voting preference.
We had also written a letter to all 90 MLAs on June 8 explaining in detail the instructions on how to vote. They were told that they could mark their votes with this pen only”.
Nandal also said that members were registering their vote in one corner where the pen had been kept tied to a thread.
“I cannot comment on allegations that somebody changed the pen. This is not for me to comment. The MLAs could register their votes in one corner, and no one could go there expect those marking their votes,” he said.
About allegations being made by some opposition leaders “casting aspersions” on the election officials as well, Nandal said, “The elections were conducted in a transparent manner.
We have videography of the process. We have nothing to say about allegations of conspiracy by any political party or any individual”.
Meanwhile, INLD’s Abhay Singh Chautala, who is Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, demanded that video recording of the polling process be made public.
He said if it cannot be made public, then at least it should be shown to a committee of IAS officers or journalists so that the entire “conspiracy can be unearthed”.
In its letter to the CEC today, Abhay Chautala said “Indian National Lok Dal is deeply concerned by the fact that almost 15 per cent of the votes cast by the legislators were found invalid. Never before in our country have votes been found invalid in such high numbers”.
“The INLD is hopeful that the Election Commission of India will spare no effort to unearth truth since only recently it has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that there are free and fair polls and the faith of the common man in the electoral process remains unshaken.
“The country has taken notice of the fact that election of a few Assembly segments was countermanded in Tamil Nadu since some candidates had sought to buy votes by offering money,” he said.
“What has happened in Haryana is worse since it is the product of a deep-rooted criminal conspiracy by a section of the Congress legislators in connivance with the ruling BJP that was aided by the negligence by the Returning Officer of the day,” Chautala alleged in the letter.
After votes of 14 legislators were cancelled leading to victory of BJP-backed Independent candidate on one seat in the biennial polls, conspiracy theories, allegations and counter allegations have flown thick and fast with ruling BJP and opposition Congress and INLD firing salvos at each other with some leaders even threatening to file defamation suits.
INLD, which had originally backed lawyer R K Anand, had alleged that Congress leader and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and BJP were “responsible” for the 14 votes of Congress MLAs being declared invalid, leading to the victory of BJP-supported independent candidate Subhash Chandra.
The Congress leaders and Anand accused Chandra, a media baron, of “playing fraud on the democracy and Constitution” with the help of an independent MLA and some EC officials.