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Praful Patel demands re-poll in 400 booths

Patel also questioned why VVPAT machines from Surat in Gujarat were used in the bypoll when similar machines were available in Maharashtra.

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Former union minister and veteran National Congress Party leader Praful Patel has appealed to the Election Commission for re-poll in 400 of the total 2,200 booths in Bhandara-Gondia by-election following the malfunctioning of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. He said the Election Commission's clarification that malfunctioning was due to "severe heat conditions'' was unacceptable and added that EC should count the VVPAST slips.

Patel also questioned why VVPAT machines from Surat in Gujarat were used in the bypoll when similar machines were available in Maharashtra. "VVPATs were available in Maharashtra. What was the reason for bringing EVMs from Surat in Gujarat? We have expressed our doubts to the Election Commission in a written representation demanding re-poll in 25 per cent of the total booths," he said.

Patel said voters, who had come to cast their votes, had left due to malfunctioning of VVPATs. "After 3 pm, the Election Commission announced that the VVPATs have started functioning, the voters can now come back and cast their vote. How can voters come back now,'' he questioned.

In Bhandra-Gondia, the BJP and NCP are pitted against each other. The bypoll was necessitated following the resignation of BJP MP Nana Patole who switched side to Congress. NCP, which has joined hands with Congress, has fielded Patel's close confidant and former BJP legislator Madhukar Kukde against BJP nominee Hemant Patle.

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