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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > 48 vote plot thickens Mystery man with mobile inside counting centre

48-vote plot thickens: Mystery man with mobile inside counting centre

Updated on: 10 June,2024 06:53 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shirish Vaktania | mailbag@mid-day.com

Vanrai police are investigating allegations from losing candidate Amol Kirtikar that man close to his rival might be involved in foul play

48-vote plot thickens: Mystery man with mobile inside counting centre

Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar at the NESCO centre in Goregaon East on June 4; (right) Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar after being declared the winner of the Mumbai North West Lok Sabha seat. Pics/Satej Shinde

A Mysterious mobile phone found on vote-counting day at the NESCO centre has kicked up a controversy, with the Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate, Amol Kirtikar, who lost by only 48 votes, accusing his rival, Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar, of manipulating poll results. A staffer found in possession of the device, banned inside counting centres, is under scrutiny while police are scrutinising the phone’s call records. 


Waikar won the hotly contested Mumbai North West seat by a mere 48 votes. Kirtikar claimed that the voting was stopped by a representative inside the NESCO centre between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm when he was leading by 651 votes. He alleged that the results were then declared, stating that he had lost the contest by 48 votes.


Kirtikar’s letter to the Election Commission of India, demanding a probe in the matterKirtikar’s letter to the Election Commission of India, demanding a probe in the matter


Kirtikar wrote a letter to the Election Commission, requesting an investigation and a recount of votes to provide justice to him and voters.

The guidelines of the Election Commission strictly prohibit the use of electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets and calculators during the counting process.

Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar at the NESCO centre in Goregaon East on June 4. Pic/Satej Shinde; (right) Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar at his office. Pic/Atul KambleShiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar at the NESCO centre in Goregaon East on June 4. Pic/Satej Shinde; (right) Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar at his office. Pic/Atul Kamble

Shady business?

A police source told mid-day, “This representative was frequently going to the washroom during the vote counting. This raised suspicions, and the in-charge of the NESCO centre informed the IAS officer present on the spot about the representative’s actions. The IAS officer checked him and found a mobile phone in his possession. The officer immediately informed the Vanrai police, seized the device and ordered an inquiry into the matter.”

A police officer from the Vanrai police station said, “We have seized the mobile phone and are scanning call records and data. We suspect that the representative is close to a prominent politician.”

A police source said, “We are conducting the investigation and waiting for the complainant to come to the police station. We are checking CCTV footage. The probe is being conducted by the senior police officer.”

CandidateSpeak

Kirtikar told mid-day, “I was not present when the mobile phone was found inside the centre, but he [representative] or someone else manipulated the counting of votes. My agents were counting the votes, and around 3.30 pm, I was winning the election as I was leading by 651 votes. Suddenly, they stopped the count for about two hours. At around 3:30 pm, 26 rounds of counting were completed, but they did not declare the results. At around 5.30 pm, they declared that I had lost.”

He added, “How is it possible that at one point I was winning by 651 votes, and when they declared the result, I was behind by 48 votes? I strongly object to this counting and suspect that manipulation was involved. I have written a letter to the Election Commission to investigate the matter and recount the votes. I have also demanded that the CCTV footage of the two hours [when counting wasn’t happening] at the centre be checked. The culprit will be caught.”

“The final results were declared around 7.54 pm, and I raised an objection at 8.06 pm with a speaking order. The Election Commission officer denied the speaking order, and I gave a written complaint regarding the same,” he said.

A list of those who were given permission to use mobile phones at the centre during the polling time is available with the police and the Election Commission. However, the representative who was allegedly using the phone did not have permission to carry one inside the centre.

Waikar was unavailable for comment by press time.

Returning officer reacts 

The returning officer at the centre, Vandana Suryawanshi, confirmed the mobile phone seizure. She added that Kirtikar had raised suspicions after the counting was done, but according to the rules, a candidate must raise objections before the process is completed.

Suryawanshi said, “During the entire counting process, no objections were raised by the counting representatives. As per the rules, at the end of each round, the votes received by all candidates as well as the names of those leading were announced by the returning officer.”

“While announcing the counting of the 25th round, the counting of postal ballots was completed, and after announcing the results of the 25th round and the end of the 25th round, the result of the postal ballot round was announced. In this, Kirtikar received 1,501 votes and Waikar received 1,550 votes. According to the rules, the number of postal ballots is added at the end of all the Electronic Voting Machine counting rounds. Therefore, after the counting of the voting machines of the 26th round was completed, the names of the three candidates leading in the voting machine counting at the end of the 26th round were announced. In this, Kirtikar was leading by one vote. As per the rules, after the 26th round, the number of postal ballots was included and the votes were announced for each candidate. In this, Waikar was leading by 48 votes,” she said.

According to the Election Commission’s instructions, if the difference in the number of votes between the two leading candidates is less than the number of rejected postal ballots at the end of the counting, the returning officer is mandated to re-examine all the rejected postal ballots in the presence of all the candidates. “Since the number of rejected postal ballots was 111, all these rejected postal ballots were re-examined in the presence of the candidates. The entire process was also video recorded. After examination, there was no difference in the number of counted postal ballots,” she said.

4,52,596
Votes polled by Amol Kirtikar

4,52,644
Ravindra Waikar’s vote count

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