Bihar elections: No irregularity in vote counting, all rules followed, says EC

Bihar’s Chief Electoral Officer Srinivas gave example of how rules were strictly adhered to in the 11 constituencies where the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes

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Bihar's Chief Electoral Officer Srinivas said in Hilsa assembly seat where the margin of victory/defeat (RJD’s Atri Muni lost in Hilsa) was just 12 votes, result was declared following due procedure as mentioned by the EC. | Representative Photo: iStock

After Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav alleged “discrepancies” in the counting of votes in Bihar assembly elections, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has dismissed any irregularity and said all rules and guidelines of the Election Commission (EC) were strictly followed.

Bihar’s CEO H.R. Srinivas on Thursday (November 12), gave example of how rules were strictly adhered to in the 11 constituencies where the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes.

Though he did not name any person or the party, the detailed account answered all the queries raised by Grand Alliance leader Tejashwi alleging “discrepancies” in the counting of votes “under pressure of chief minister Nitish Kumar and the BJP”.

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The CEO said in Hilsa assembly seat where the margin of victory/defeat (RJD’s Atri Muni lost in Hilsa) was just 12 votes, result was declared following due procedure as mentioned by the EC. Of the 11 assembly constituencies where victory margin was less than 1,000 votes, JD(U) won four, RJD (three), 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.

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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.”

Earlier, quoting election data, Tejashwi had claimed the NDA got only 12,270 votes more than the Mahagathbandhan.

“How can it convert into their victory in 15 more seats than us? We believe that had the counting of votes been fair, we would have returned with a tally of more than 130 seats,” said Tejashwi, whose coalition has won 110 seats, 12 less than the magic figure of 122. The NDA clinched 125 seats.

“In so many constituencies, postal ballots were counted in the end and not at the beginning of counting which is the norm. Moreover, there were seats where as many as 900 postal ballots were invalidated,” the RJD leader alleged.

“We suspect this was done to offset the support we had received from a large number of servicemen who were moved by our commitment to one rank, one pension scheme. We demand recounting of postal ballots in all such constituencies and the process be videographed,” he asserted.

(With inputs from PTI)

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