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Will train counting agents to spot EVM tinkering: Opposition

New Delhi: Opposition parties have started a coordinated training programme for their counting agents all over the country to prevent any alleged EVM manipulation by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the course of counting of votes on May 23.

The last phase of the Lok Sabha election will take place on May 19.

For the proposed exercise, 21 opposition parties have already deferred their conclave before the counting of votes on 23rd May.

Earlier, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had proposed a conclave for opposition parties before the counting of votes. However, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP Supremo Mayawati requested the Telugu Desam Party chief to defer the meeting for the time being.

In view of the unfolding political scenario, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata also called for a strict vigil during the time of counting of votes. "Don't be complacent with the overwhelming response of the people against NDA," she stated.

The opposition also feels that this time counting may take longer time than usual as was witnessed during the counting of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha have prepared a list of queries for all the counting agents to understand the technicalities of the counting process through EVM and to match with VVPAT wherever possible. The leaders are in touch with all the state leaders who are given sole charge for overseeing the counting process. They have prepared a checklist for verifying the correct process of counting of votes. These checklists are sent to the state headquarters and state leaders will hold a training programme for the counting agents two days before the counting.

In the six phases of polling, there were reports of EVM glitches from many states. In some cases, defective EVMs were replaced but not all of them were VVPAT-linked. In some booths in Uttar Pradesh, VVPAT machines were not even seen.

Last month, the Supreme Court had increased VVPAT verification to five random Electronic Voting Machines in each Assembly segment/constituency.

In case of general elections, VVPAT slips of five EVMs in each Assembly segment of a Parliamentary Constituency would be subject to physical counting. In state assembly elections, the VVPAT verification would extend to five random EVMs in each Assembly constituency.

The 21 opposition parties wanted that at least 25 per cent VVPATs should be counted which was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The opposition parties are planning to train their counting agents. Whenever irregularities are noticed they should immediately lodge a formal protest with the Returning Officer and inform party managers immediately. Congress party has prepared a special cell with some technologists who will monitor the counting process from the "war room" of the party.

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