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Not going back to era of ballot papers: CEC

Not going back to era of ballot papers: CEC

New Delhi: Rejecting the demand of major opposition parties, the Election Commission on Thursday ruled out going back to the era of ballot papers and asserted it could not be "bullied or coerced" into discarding the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPATs.

"We are going to keep on using EVMs. We are going to keep on using VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail). We are open to any criticism and feedback from any stakeholder, including the political parties. They are the most significant stakeholders.

"But at the same time, we are not going to be intimidated or bullied or pressurised or coerced into now giving up these and start the era of ballot boxes," Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said while inaugurating an international conference here on "Making Our Elections Inclusive and Accessible".

"I would like to make again it very clear that we are not going back to the era of ballot papers. We are not going back to that era where we have ballot papers being lifted, muscle men being employed, besides the delay in counting and also too much harassment of polling staff on the ground," he said.

Questioning political parties on why they embrace the EVMs if the result is favourable to them and crying foul if it is against, he asked why they were turning the issue of EVMs into a "motivated slugfest".

The Chief Election Commissioner's remarks come amid demands from several opposition parties to scrap the EVMs and a return to ballot papers.

The demand was also raised at a mega rally organised by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata in which 23 political parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and DMK took part.

The controversy over EVMs took a new turn earlier this week when a US-based self-claimed cyber expert Syed Shuja claimed that the 2014 elections were rigged and the EVMs can be hacked, a charge rejected by the EC which asked the Delhi Police to file an FIR against Shuja.

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