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RO's decision on recounting of votes for Nandigram final, says EC

KOLKATA: A day after TMC said it would move court against the Election Commission (EC) for its alleged bungling of the announcement of results of Nandigram Assembly seat, the poll panel made it clear that the Returning Officer's (RO) decision regarding recounting of votes is final.

The Commission asked the state government to provide adequate security to the RO and the former informed that they have already complied with the order. As per the final announcement of the Commission, BJP's Suvendu Adhikari won from that seat by 1,956 votes. TMC chairperson Mamata Banerjee said on Monday: "They had announced me as the winning candidate. The Governor congratulated me and then they declared me as the losing candidate. Our party has done so well in the election and it is surprising that here it could not do well," she said. Banerjee alleged that there was a problem with the server followed by a power cut. "They had done something with the EVMs," she alleged.

She said the RO could not allow recounting as he received "life threats." She referred to an SMS written by the Returning Officer which read: "If I allow recounting, then I will be killed. I am under tremendous pressure from Delhi and BJP. I have a daughter. The pressure is mounting and I will have no option but to commit suicide."

The EC, however, made it clear that there was no anomaly with the counting process. "Each counting table had one micro-observer. Their reports never indicated any impurity of the counting process on their respective tables. The RO caused the entries of votes polled by each candidate after each round to be written on the display board which could be easily seen by the counting agents. No doubt was raised on the result of round-wise counting. This enabled the RO to proceed uninterruptedly with the counting of votes," the EC said. The poll panel maintained that the only remedy was to move the High Court. The state's CEO has already been directed to ensure the safe custody of all election records, including polled EVMs and VVPAT machines, video recordings, and counting records strictly in accordance with laid down guidelines.

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