"We have sought a detailed report from district election officer and would come up with a response in the evening," a Commission spokesperson said.
Taking action on media reports, the Election Commission on Saturday sought a detailed report from district poll authorities in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind, where a VVPAT was allegedly dispensing slips of BJP symbol during a demonstration exercise.
An Assembly bypoll is due in Bhind next week, and during the demonstration, a machine was allegedly found malfunctioning in favour of BJP. “We have sought a detailed report from district election officer and would come up with a response in the evening,” a Commission spokesperson said. VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip drops in a box but the voters are not allowed to take the slips home. various media reports said that vote went for Bharatiya Janata Party, irrespective of button pressed, during the demonstration. The reports also claimed that Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh had asked journalists not to publish the news in newspapers, else they would be detained at the police station.
However, as it appeared, many publications went ahead with publishing the news. Following the reports, Saleena Singh addressed media denied the reports that VVPAT dispensed only BJP slips. She said her office and the district poll authorities had sent reports on the issue to the Election Commission. “During the demonstration, the VVPAT first dispensed a slip with (BJP’s) lotus symbol but the second one had (Congress’) hand symbol,” she said.
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The said VVPAT-enabled machines are scheduled to be used at Assembly by-elections at Ater in Bhind district and Bandhavgarh in Umaria district on April 9. “If it is other way round (if the claim is incorrect) the voter will be booked and can face six months’ imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both after trial (under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961),” Saleena Singh said addressing media. Asked about the reports that she threatened to send mediapersons to jail if they continued to say that VVPAT was dispensing only BJP slips, Singh said, “It was in a lighter vein.” “Some elements, not mediapersons, twisted the issue,” she added.