Millennium Post

Bring back paper ballots to save democracy: Mamata

Kolkata: Slamming the BJP of winning the Lok Sabha polls by misusing muscle and money power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday called for bringing back the system of paper ballots that were in use prior to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to 'save democracy'.

Questioning the authenticity of the EVMs used in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Banerjee urged all political parties to join her in this endeavour to press for the return of ballots.

"We don't want EVM. We demand returning to the earlier system of ballot papers to save democracy. We will start a movement and it will be initiated from Bengal. I will ask all the 23 political parties in the Opposition to come together in support of ballot papers. Even a country like the US has banned EVMs," she said after a meeting with the MPs and MLAs along with senior party leaders at the state Secretariat, Nabanna.

Banerjee also called for constituting a fact-finding committee to probe the issue of EVM malfunctioning and maintained that the BJP had spent lakhs of rupees to malfunction the EVMs and swing votes in their favour.

She claimed that the people's verdict was "spontaneous" when the Congress won 16 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal in 1984. Neither there were any questions raised in the 2009 Lok Sabha results when the Congress and the Trinamool Congress had an alliance in the state.

"In the recent elections, they (BJP) got 18 seats (in Bengal) with money, muscle, government, communal and media power. They had targeted 23 seats and maybe, the EVMs were pre-programmed in favour of them. The verdict was not spontaneous and the BJP's victory was not based on people's mandate," Banerjee said.

The TMC chief also raised doubts over the tallying of only two percent VVPAT machines with the EVMs and said: "How do you prove that there was no pre-planned programming of the EVMs? The Election Commission should supervise this but they did not. They allowed only two percent votes to be counted and what about the 98 percent votes in a machine? During the elections, many EVMs were shunned due to non-functioning. Many were replaced but there were no mock polls. How can you guarantee that these machines were not 'programmed' before being pressed into service," Banerjee asserted.

She further added that the Trinamool Congress will organise "March for public relations" across districts of the state ahead of the outfit's annual July 21 Martyrs' Day rally. Banerjee formed a six-member core group committee comprising senior party leaders to chalk out plan of this programme right from the state to the block level.

She reiterated that the July 21 rally originated from TMC's movement focusing on 'no identity card, no vote'. "13 of our workers were shot dead by the then CPI(M) government," she maintained.

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