Madhya Pradesh's top poll officer Monday sought to allay doubts about the security of EVMs kept in strongrooms, saying these machines are safe and put under a three-layered surveillance system backed by CCTV cameras.
The assertion by state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V L Kantha Rao came amidst the Congress raising doubts over the security of EVMs which contain the votes cast in the November 28 election for the 230 Assembly seats in the state.
The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), kept in strongrooms across the state, will be opened on December 11 for counting.
"All the machines reached the strongrooms by the morning of November 29. These strongrooms were locked in the presence of candidates, observers and other officials," Rao told reporters here.
He said there is a three-tier security cordon around the strongrooms - central security forces are deployed near the strong room, state armed personnel posted in the second layer and local police are manning the outer layer.
"A security protocol is being followed and nobody, including the returning officer, is allowed to enter with a mobile phone and without due entry in the register.
"The candidates and their representatives are also allowed to keep watch and tents have been installed for them," he said.
Rao said, "Where the gates of strongrooms are not visible, LED screens were installed so that the candidates and their representatives can watch them (from outside)."
Asked about the late arrival of EVMs at some places, including Sagar and Khargone, Rao said, "Such EVMs were reserved and not used in the polling.
"We have already given the serial numbers of EVMs used in the polling to the candidates and a report in this regard was submitted to the Election Commission of India," Rao said.
These machines were stored separately, he added.
Action has been initiated against 13 officials in connection with complaints, including the late arrival of the reserved EVMs, Rao said. Three officials have been suspended and 10 issued show cause notices, he added.
"Our doubts are still not clear. It is still not clear how EVMs reached as late as 48 hours in Sagar, Khargone and a few other places.
"It is also not clear why 1,500 EVMs were replaced across the state during the polling. BJP is making all efforts to rig the polls," Chaturvedi said.
"The Congress is running a false propaganda over the security of the EVMs and strongrooms which is an excuse to its imminent defeat in elections.
"The Congress is trying to create confusion among the voters," he had said, adding the poll process is controlled by the ECI and no government or political party can interfere in it.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)