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Rebel BJP MLA alleges ministers of hacking EVMs to win Maha local body polls

A rebel BJP MLA in Maharashtra on Saturday alleged that some state ministers belonging to the party had got Electronic Voter Machines (EVMs) "hacked" to win the local body polls held recently, a charge rubbished by the BJP. Anil Gote, who represents Dhule in Maharashtra Assembly and had recently announced his decision to quit the BJP as he was unhappy with the party's choice of candidates for civic polls, said at a press conference here that he has approached the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on the alleged hacking issue.

Gote questioned as to how wherever BJP minister Girish Mahajan was given responsibility by the party - Dhule, Jamner, Jalgaon, the BJP won exactly the same number of seats as predicted by the minister. He also questioned the role of two other ministers as well. He alleged that some leaders in the BJP had managed to deploy people to "hack" EVMs. He also claimed that some of his party workers had got in touch with an "agent of one of these hackers" and had recorded the telephonic conversations. He played the clippings of the purported conversations at the press conference.

BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari refuted Gote's allegations, terming them as a "cooked up story". "We do not even know if EVMs can be hacked. The BJP has neither hacked the machines nor believes in doing anything against the spirit of democracy," Bhandari told PTI. The BJP had won 50 seats in the 74-member Dhule Municipal Corporation in polls held last month. The disgruntled leader had fielded his candidates in the Dhule civic polls under the banner of Lok Sangram but managed to win just one seat. He had won the 2009 Assembly election from Dhule as an Independent and had joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 state polls. He was earlier arrested in connection with the multi crore stamp paper scam and is now out on bail.

Gote has denied any involvement in the scam. The MLA claimed on Saturday that he met Director General of Police Datta Padsalgikar and was ready to submit all proof in his possession if the latter was willing to appoint either an IAS or IPS officer to conduct a probe. "But he was not ready to take cognisance of my complaint," he claimed, adding that he has now approached the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court. "The first date of hearing is on February 7," he said. Padsalgikar was unavailable for comment. When asked if he had complained to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Gote said, "I have tried everything. I will not say he is backing them (in the hacking of EVMs) but he is supporting them." Despite several attempts, Fadnavis and Mahajan remained unavailable for comment.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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