As he emerged after voting in the presidential election today, Leader of Opposition and senior INLD leader Abhay Chautala said that he had “thoroughly checked” the pen before casting his vote. He was apparently taking a dig while referring to a controversy that had erupted earlier during Rajya Sabha elections. An “ink controversy” had erupted last year during Rajya Sabha polls after the votes of 12 MLAs of the Congress and allies were declared invalid for marking their preferences with a pen other than the one officially supplied, prompting the Congress and the INLD to allege foul play. The BJP-supported independent candidate Subhash Chandra had defeated the Congress and INLD-backed R K Anand in the biennial election to Council of States from Haryana, held in June last year.
“I checked the pen thoroughly and even asked the person who gave me the pen (during voting today to verify) that it was the same pen or some other pen,” Chautala told reporters here today. However, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that there was no possibility of any “pen controversy” occurring this time and said the Election Commission had made necessary arrangements in this regard. In the wake of ink controversy in Rajya Sabha polls last year, the EC had decided to use special pens for the electors to mark their votes in the presidential and vice presidential polls.
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Specially serial-numbered pens with violet ink were supplied by the Election Commission to ensure that only the writing instrument issued by it was used by voters to mark their votes. MPs and MLAs who vote to elect the next president were barred from carrying their personal pens inside the voting chamber and would have to mark their ballot with a specially- designed marker. Khattar said that, “Very good arrangements had been made (by the Election Commission) this time. There is no possibility of any pen controversy occurring this time”. “Pen was made available by the EC and the concerned officials gave pen and ballot paper (to the electors). After a member casts his vote, pen is taken back by the concerned official. Then the next voter comes and he is given the pen and ballot paper. Therefore, there cannot be any pen controversy,” he said.