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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Lok Sabha elections 2024 OTP not used for EVMs says Poll officer

Lok Sabha elections 2024: OTP not used for EVMs, says Poll officer

Updated on: 17 June,2024 06:55 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shirish Vaktania |

Issue relates to unauthorised use of cellphone by candidate’s aide

Lok Sabha elections 2024: OTP not used for EVMs, says Poll officer

Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi at the Collector’s office in Bandra, on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

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Lok Sabha elections 2024: OTP not used for EVMs, says Poll officer

The returning officer of the Mumbai North West constituency has clarified that OTP (one-time password) is not used for unlocking the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) as it is non-programmable and does not have any wireless or wired communication capabilities. mid-day had reported on June 16, citing a police officer investigating the case, that candidate Ravindra Waikar’s relative had a phone that unlocked the EVM. “The matter relates to unauthorised use of mobile phone of an authorised person by a candidate’s aide,” Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi said in a statement.

EVMs are standalone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside the EVM system. There is no OTP on mobile phones for unlocking EVM, as it is non-programmable and it has no wireless communication capabilities,” underlined Suryavanshi while addressing the media on Sunday at the collector’s office in Bandra. “We use EVMs to get the results of the votes by counting them. We seal the machines after voting and open them with the signatures of the counting agents on them,” she added.

Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi and Collector Rajendra Shankar Kshirsagar at the latter’s office on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Returning Officer Vandana Suryavanshi and Collector Rajendra Shankar Kshirsagar at the latter’s office on Sunday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

“OTPs are required in the ENCORE system where we update the data of the Election Commission. The ENCORE system is not connected with EVMs. On June 4, during the counting of votes, a mobile phone was found inside the NESCO centre. We informed the police immediately to act accordingly. The complaint was raised by candidates Surinder Arora and Bharat Shah who caught [Mangesh] Pandilkar with a phone, and we handed over the phone and Pandilkar to the police to take cognisable action,” she added.

“On June 5, we sent a letter to the Vanrai police to register an FIR but the police didn’t register it. Later, we received a letter from the police on June 11 to send a representative, and we sent our representative and registered the FIR. The police only told us that ENCORE operator Dinesh Gurav gave his mobile phone to Pandilkar,” she explained.

‘We are following procedures’

Asked if CCTV footage of the alleged crime scene had been shared with the Mumbai police, Suryavanshi said, “We are following statutory procedures. Without a court order, we can’t give the CCTV footage to anyone, including the police. We will be able to provide CCTV footage with an order from a competent court.”

“I declared the results at 7.53 pm [on June 4] and we received a written complaint at 8:03 pm from candidate Amol Kirtikar. After declaring the voting result, we also waited for more than two minutes. Kirtikar didn’t object to the procedure or the counting agent. They only claimed that their counting agent counted votes that were more than Ravindra Waikar’s votes. No manipulation happened inside the NESCO centre,” she said.

The system

Explaining the ENCORE system, she said, “It is an online system where the data compilation process is done. The cops are investigating how this mobile phone reached Pandilkar from ENCORE operator Dinesh Gurav.”

“EVMs cannot be hacked. We have not mentioned anything about OTPs in the FIR but mentioned that due to the ENCORE system process, OTPs are used by the ENCORE operator and for this reason, the Election Commission allowed mobile phones inside the NESCO centre. ENCORE is an online system where the assistant returning officer uses an OTP to generate data entries. Manual entry votes were also counted three times in the NESCO centre,” she added.

The controversy

In the closely contested 2024 Lok Sabha election, Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar emerged victorious in the Mumbai North West seat by a razor-thin margin of 48 votes. The plot thickened after aspirants claimed they saw Pandilkar, a counting agent and close relative of winning candidate Ravindra Waikar from the Shiv Sena, openly operating a mobile phone at the counting hall of the centre on June 4.

The complainants raised an alarm and later, they went to the Vanrai police station where the mobile phone was confiscated by the cops. The on-duty officers recorded the statements of Surinder Arora from the Bharat Jan Aadhar Party and Bharat Khimji Shah from the Hindu Samaj Party, who had raised the alarm.


The report ‘Waikar’s kin had phone that unlocks EVM’ (page 6, June 16) inadvertently erroneously mentioned that the accused person used his mobile phone to generate an OTP to unlock EVMs. The error is regretted.

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