Mumbai Shinde Sena MP's Relative Booked For Using Phone To 'Unlock EVM'? Poll Officer Denies Charges

Mumbai North West Lok Sabha MP Ravindra Waikar's brother-in-law is accused of using the phone to generate a One-Time Password (OTP) to unlock an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the counting centre in the Goregaon area.

An Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) paired with a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) at a polling booth | Photo: PTI

The Mumbai Police have registered a case against Mangesh Pandilkar, brother-in-law of newly elected Mumbai North West Lok Sabha MP Ravindra Waikar, for allegedly using a mobile phone at a counting centre on June 4.

"Pandilkar was booked on the complaint of polling personnel Dinesh Gurav. An independent candidate noticed the former using a mobile phone despite a ban on such devices at the counting centre and alerted the returning officer. The RO, in turn, approached Vanrai police," the official was quoted by PTI as saying.

A Sunday report by Mid-Day also suggested that Pandilkar is accused of using the phone to generate a One-Time Password (OTP) to unlock an electronic voting machine (EVM) at the counting centre in the Goregaon area.

The move sparked a controversy, with the opposition crying foul over the narrow margin of victory for Waikar, who won by just 48 votes. Waikar, an MP from the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, defeated Amol Gajanan Kirtikar of Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, by just 48 votes in the Mumbai North West seat. 

However, Mumbai Suburban Returning Officer, Vandana Suryavanshi, in a press conference denied the charges and said that no OTP is needed to unlock the EVM.

Suryavanshi said, "There is no mobile OTP needed to unlock the EVM as it is a non-programmable offence...It has advanced technical features and there is no communication device on the EVM...It is a technically full-proof system & EVM is a standalone system. It does not require any OTP..."

"This is a complete lie being spread by a newspaper, which some leaders are using to create a false narrative," she added.

Pandilkar has been booked under Indian Penal Code section 188 (disobeying official order).

Eknath Shinde's Party Refutes EVM Tampering Charge

Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) leader Sanjay Nirupam on Sunday rejected these allegations and said, "This is the first time I have heard that an EVM can be unlocked through a mobile.”

“People like [Congress leader] Rahul Gandhi, [Senior Advocate] Prashant Bhushan, [Samajwadi Party chief] Akhilesh Yadav, and [RJD leader] Tejaswi Yadav have alleged EVM hacking. If it was hacked, then their candidates wouldn't have secured more votes in the Vanrai polling station," Nirupam said in a press conference.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde asked, “Why are questions being raised about the outcome of only Mumbai North West constituency and not any other result in the state? Is it because my candidate, Waikar, won and theirs lost.”

What Is The Opposition Saying

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the EVMs in India are a "black box," and "nobody is allowed to scrutinise them". He posted on X, “ Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability."

Meanwhile, the Congress raised a few other questions in connection with the allegations against Ravindra Waikar's relative.

"Why was the mobile phone of a relative of the NDA candidate connected to the EVM? How did the mobile phone reach the place where votes were being counted?" the Congress asked on X.