Counting of Votes in Bihar Polls Done in Fair Manner, Says Chief Electoral Officer HR Srinivas

Patna: Chief Electoral Officer H R Srinivas Thursday dismissed any irregularity in declaration of results in the Bihar polls, asserting all rules and guidelines of the Election Commission were strictly followed in the counting of postal ballots as well as allowing only the authorised persons to carry mobile phones inside the counting halls. Talking to reporters here, Srinivas gave example of how rules were strictly adhered to in the 11 constituencies where the victory margin was less than 1000 votes.

Though he did not name any person or the party, the detailed account answered all the queries raised by Grand Alliance leader Tejashwi Yadav during the day alleging “discrepancies” in the counting of votes “under pressure of chief minister Nitish Kumar and the BJP.” The CEO said in Hilsa assembly seat where the margin of victory/defeat was just 12 votes, result was declared following due procedure as mentioned by the Election Commission of India. Of the 11 assembly constituencies where victory margin was less than 1000 votes, JD(U) won 04, RJD (03), BJP, LJP, CPI and Independent (one each), he added.

Out of these 11 assembly seats, candidates or election agents had sought “recounting” of votes in six constituencies, the CEO said adding that Returning Officers have passed “reasoned order” rejecting the pleas for recounting in the five seats as margin of victory was more than the rejected postal ballots. However, pleas for Hilsa constituency where the victory margin was only 12 votes and the number of rejected postal ballots was 182, the request was accepted and the recounting was done.

The Returning Officer recounted the entire postal ballots including those which were rejected as invalid in Hilsa and passed a reasoned order in this regard, Srinivas said. While in other five constituencies- Ramgarh, Matihani, Bhorey, Dehri and Parbatta- the victory margin was more than the “rejected postal ballots”, he said giving reason for turning down the requests for recounting.

Quoting ECs instructions, he said “where the margin of victory is less than the number of postal ballot papers rejected as invalid at the time of counting, all the rejected postal ballot papers shall be mandatorily re-verified by the Returning Officer before declaration of result. “Whenever, such re-verification is done, the entire proceedings should be video-graphed.” In reply to a query, the CEO said his office will make relevant documents and copy of the videography available to the party/parties concerned.

Srinivas also made it clear that it has been clearly mentioned in the EC guideline as who can take mobile phones inside the counting centres. “Only mobile phone of the Returning Officers/Assitant Returning Officers/Counting Supervisor/s linked to ETPBS (Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Paper System) to be used to receive ‘OTP’ to log into ETPBS to start counting thereof have to be brought inside the counting hall, the CEO said quoting ECIs instructions dated May 21,2019.

The mobile handsets will be switched on only to receive the ‘OTP’ and be switched off once the system is logged on to ETBPS, it said adding that a declaration should be signed by all users separately about Dos and DONTs for mobile usage. The CEO said counting of votes from EVM begins after 30 minutes of counting of the postal ballot and thereafter the counting goes simultaneously in separate halls which are video-graphed too.

Srinivas said the Commission has submitted a list of 243 newly elected members of the Bihar legislative assembly to Governor Phagu Chauhan. Regarding counting of votes on the eight seats of Bihar legislative council, the biennial elections for which were held on October 22, the CEO said result of Patna teachers constituency has been declared while counting for the remaining seats is currently underway.

BJP’s Nawal Kishore Yadav won the Patna teachers constituency defeating his nearest RJD rival Narayan Yadav. BJP candidate got 3176 votes while RJD nominee got 1913 votes, he said.

The results of the remaining three constituencies are likely to be declared by late night while the results of four graduate constituencies may be announced by Friday evening.

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