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Opposition renews attack over EVMs, wants 50% paper trail verification

Opposition renews attack over EVMs, wants 50% paper trail verification

New Delhi: Raising doubts over the credibility of EVMs, several opposition parties Sunday said they would move the Supreme Court again to demand verification of at least 50 per cent of votes by a paper trail.

Opposition parties, including the Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Samajwadi Party, CPI and CPI(M), jointly addressed a press conference to highlight the issue of transparency in the election process and protection of voter rights with a call to "save democracy".

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "programming" electronic voting machines to win the Lok Sabha elections, while his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu said 21 political parties have demanded verification of VVPAT paper trails of 50 per cent of the EVMs.

Naidu on Saturday had met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora to raise the issue of EVM malfunctioning.

The demand by the parties comes in the peak of the election season. The first of the seven phases of the Lok Sabha polls was held on April 11.

The Supreme Court Monday directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly

segment, from one at present, in the Lok Sabha polls, saying it will provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but the entire electorate.

A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly and will help detect any possible election fraud or malfunction of EVMs.

Kejriwal claimed that people were losing faith in EVMs and the election procedure. These are raising a question mark on the country's democratic structure, he said.

Congress leaders and senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi also attended the conference.

Sibal said, If the EC ignores this issue then we will take other measures. We will not sit quietly. We will approach the Supreme Court."

Singhvi said the opposition parties would carry out a nationwide campaign on the issue of discrepancies in EVMs and alleged that the EC was not doing enough to address the issue of EVM malfunctioning.

"Questions were raised after the first phase of elections; we don't think the EC is paying adequate attention. If you press the button before X party, the vote goes to Y party. VVPAT displays only for 3 seconds, instead of 7 seconds," Singhvi said.

Raising questions on the EC's intentions, Sibal said, "Why the EC does not want 50 per cent VVPAT to be counted. Today, 20-25 per cent of EVMs are not working correctly. People vote till 4 am and wait in queues. What does this mean?

It will be a misfortune if the EC supports the voting machines instead of the voters, he said.

Kejriwal said, "EVMs are being programmed by the BJP to win the Lok Sabha elections. People don't believe in EVMs anymore. All of us (opposition parties) want at least 50 per cent VVPAT counting except one party, BJP, which is benefitting out of this manipulation of machines.

Loss of faith in the electoral procedure is raising a question mark on the country's democratic structure," the Delhi chief minister said.

He also accused the EC of not paying heed to the complaints of EVM manipulation.

"Why is EC not listening or acting on the complaints. There is a serious manipulation of EVMs. Why is EC ignorant of this? Why is not being investigated that people are pressing other party's button on the EVM, but the vote goes to BJP," Kejriwal said.

Naidu, a key interlocutor of the opposition, said EVMs are not reliable, and opposition parties are not satisfied with the Supreme Court order directing the EC to increase the number of EVM's randomly verified from 1 to 5 per assembly constituency.

MPOST BUREAU

MPOST BUREAU

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