NEW DELHI: As the counting of votes in the Gujarat assembly elections in the early hours showed a neck and neck battle between the BJP and the Congress and a clear lead for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said there was no question of EVM tampering in the elections.

“I assure that EVMS cannot be tampered with… Questions being raised about EVMs have already been answered by us in the media,” Mr Joti said.

The Chief Election Commissioner said the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail machines or VVPATs were there in every polling station in Gujarat. This, he said, “enabled voters to see whom they voted for, so issues being raised aren’t right”.

Ahead of the counting of votes, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and Patidar leader Hardik Patel had expressed apprehension that the EVMs may have been tampered with.
The matter had become a major controversy after the earlier round of assembly elections this year, when the BJP swept to victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Mayawati, one of the regional powerhouses in Uttar Pradesh, had alleged that the BJP victory had been powered by largescale EVM tampering. The allegation, which was brushed aside by the Election Commission, had been picked up by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress,

The battle for Gujarat had been bitterly fought, with the Congress, under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, carrying out an aggressive campaign. The party had anticipated anti-incumbency in the state where the BJP has been in power for 22 years. For the BJP, it was a prestige battle in the state where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had served as the Chief Minister for more than a decade.

After the early morning’s close fight, the BJP slowly pulled back, hitting the mark of 92 — the minimum number of seats required in the 182-seat Gujarat assembly — to form government.

The party was also set to snatch Himachal Pradesh from the Congress, leading in more than 40 of the state’s 68 seats.ak-joti-cec-ani_650x400_41508916884