EC's challenge with EVMs used in recent polls
The Election Commission on Friday said it will offer political parties an opportunity to prove that electronic voting machines used in the recent assembly polls were tampered with.
A "challenge" is on the cards, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a meeting of political parties here, going on record for the first time regarding the EC's proposed move to counter allegations of EVM tampering.
It will offer an opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that EVMs used in recent elections were tampered with or that EVMs can be tampered with even under strict technical and administrative safeguards as applicable during elections, Zaidi said. He, however, did not give any date for the proposed challenge which he announced in his opening remarks at the meeting.
Zaidi also said the Commission has "no favourites" and it was equidistant from all parties.
"You should be convinced that EC has no favourites...we maintain equidistance from all parties and groups. It is our constitutional and moral duty to stand dead centre of the circle drawn around us by 56 political parties (seven national and 49 state recognised parties)," he said. In another major decision, the poll panel has decided to conduct all future elections -- both parliamentary or state assemblies --- by using only VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail system) with EVMs. "The use of VVPAT with EVMs will ensure total credibility and transparency and put to rest all controversy," Zaidi said, adding that VVPATs slips of a percentage of EVMs to be determined by the ECI would be counted and the poll body would soon evolve a framework in this regard.
At the meet, representatives of all seven national parties were present, while only 35 out of the 48 state recognised political parties turned up to raise their EVM concern. At the meet, both the ruling party (BJP) and principal opposition (Congress) supported the use of EVMs in polls.
Return to ballot papers: TMC, BSP
Regional parties, who have questioned the reliability of EVMs, stand divided over the issue of replacing EVMs with ballots. It was only All India Trinamool Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party who stuck to their original demand of re-introduction of paper ballot system, while other regional parties such as RJD, JD(U), RLD, NCP, etc favoured the EVM system.
Representing TMC at the meet, Mukul Roy said, "EVM is not full -proof. Most advanced countries have gone back to their present systems. Today, we are strongly demanding for ballot papers to be introduced again and state funding is the only issue to resolve all these cases. We are not in favour of EVM that is what we are asking the introduction of ballot papers."
Similarly, vouching for ballot papers BSP's national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said, "The BSP stand is that elections should be conducted through ballot papers. Today it has been proved that EVMs can be tampered with. Fair elections can not be conducted through EVMs."