Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “stealing votes”, claiming that a truck with voting machines was caught in Varanasi.

At a press conference on Tuesday, he alleged that government officials in Lucknow were directing their subordinates to slow down the counting of votes and prolong the process till late night in the district where the chances of the BJP winning the electoral contest are slim.

“In Varanasi, we intercepted one truck and two trucks fled. If there was no suspicious activity, how did two trucks with EVMs escape? You cannot move any EVMs from anywhere without the consent of candidates,” Yadav said in a press conference. 

“We were getting information that a principal Secretary to the Chief Minister was calling District Magistrates, saying ‘counting should be slow wherever the BJP is losing.’ Now that the EVMs have been caught, the officials will make multiple excuses…”  

Earlier in the day, videos of EVMs in a truck were circulated on social media, following which Kaushal Raj Sharma, District Magistrate of Varanasi, said the machines were just being used for “hands-on training” and were not the ones being used for voting.

“They are all sealed in the strong room in the possession of CRPF and there is CCTV surveillance which is being watched by people of all political parties,” Sharma had said. 

Akhilesh’s allegations come a day after several exit polls forecast a clear majority for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP is likely to win 221 to 243 seats, the SP 140 to 160 seats, the BSP 9-16 seats, and Congress 3 to 6 seats, according to Opoyi Poll of Polls.  

The seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls concluded on Monday and the counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.