EVM row: 16 Opposition parties urge EC to revert to paper ballots

Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd are the two PSUs which manufacture the EVMs for EC. Photo: Representational
By: Agencies
Updated: 10 Apr 2017 08:04 PM
NEW DELHI: Sixteen Opposition parties today urged the Election Commission to revert to the paper ballot system, claiming the faith of the people in the EVMs has "eroded".

Representatives of parties including Congress, BSP, DMK, Trinamool Congress and the Left met top EC officials to demand reintroduction of the ballot paper system.

The poll watchdog, which has vouched for the reliability of EVMs, said it would soon convene an all-party meet to discuss the issue, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and DMK leader T Siva told reporters after the meeting.

The opposition leaders decided to put forth their demand before the EC for simultaneous use of VVPAT (paper trail of voting) and ballot paper in 50 per cent constituencies each for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh slated later this year.

"This will help check the voting system and dispel all doubts about their use in elections," said a leader.

Opposition leaders have been demanding that VVPAT be introduced in all future elections. The Congress has also been pushing for use of ballot papers instead of EVMs in upcoming elections in view of the alleged tampering.

The parties are demanding that the EC dispel the apprehensions they have and reassure the people of the country and voters on the serious issue.

The opposition parties observed that free and fair elections are the basic founding blocks on which the entire edifice of country has been maintained.

"Any erosion of these basic principles which sustain this edifice needs to be addressed forthwith and in the right earnest," said another leader.

Among those present at today's strategy meeting held at Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad's chamber in Parliament included Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha, besides JDU leader Ali Anwar Ansari, TMC leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, BSP leader Satish Misra and SP leader Neeraj Shekhar.

NCP leader Majeed Memon, CPI leader D Raja, CPI-M leader C P Narayanan and RJD leader J P Narain Yadav were also present during the meeting and all decided to strongly raise the issue with the EC.

SC to hear on April 13 pleas challenging use of EVMs in polls

The Supreme Court said it will hear on April 13 the pleas challenging the use of EVMs in elections without equipping the machines with voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar refused to give sepearate hearing to a plea filed by former Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmaker Ataur Rehman who sought elections with EVMs equipped with VVPAT.

"Pleas on similar issues are coming up for hearing on April 13. You can raise your contention at the time. We will give you the opportunity to raise your contention but we will not tag the matter and accord separate hearing," the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said.

Alleging EVM fraud, Arvind Kejriwal says EC helping BJP win MCD

Blaming the Election Commission for "EVM-tampering", Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said poll panel's only aim appeared to be to bring the BJP to power.

The AAP leader also questioned the EC's decision to deploy EVMs produced before 2006, which he said had no security features, in the April 23 Delhi civic polls.

Kejriwal told the media here that although Generation II (made in 2006-13) and Generation III EVMs (made after 2013) were available in Delhi, the Election Commission had ordered Generation I EVMs produced before 2006 and with no security features to be used in the Delhi civic polls.

He alleged that what was being dismissed as "EVM malfunction" was actually a case of tampering to ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party gets the votes of even other parties.

"The code has been changed, the programme has been changed..."

He said on Sunday 18 EVMs surfaced during the Dholpur assembly by-election in Rajasthan which voted only for the BJP no matter which button was pressed by the voters.

"Eighteen EVMs in one constituency means at least 10 per cent of the total number of machines were tampered with," Kejriwal said, adding doubts arose about the other 90 per cent machines too.

Similar tampering was also reported during a mock drill of EVM in Bhind in Madhya Pradesh when the voter slips showed the vote in favour of the BJP no matter which button was pressed.

Even manufacturers can't manipulate EVMs, EC had said

The EVMs are robust and tamper-proof and even the manufacturers cannot manipulate them at the time of production, the EC had said on Sunday, countering allegations that the machines are unreliable.

With the Opposition's questions on the reliability of the electronic voting machines getting louder, the Commission has come out with a list of 'frequently asked questions' to put across its views in public domain.

Recently, the Commission had issued two statements defending the machines. The FAQs are the third attempt by the poll watchdog to counter the doubts on the machines' reliability.

One of the first questions the FAQ addresses is whether the machine can be hacked?

No, asserts the Commission.