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CM wants use of ballot papers in civic elections

CM wants use of ballot papers in civic elections

Kolkata: Raising questions over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the recently-concluded general elections, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday that her party will approach the state Election Commission and appeal for the use of ballots during the Panchayat and Municipal elections in the state.

"We want ballots for voting and not machines to save democracy. We will be vocal with this demand from now on and our theme for July 21 Martyrs' Day programme will be return to ballots," Banerjee said while addressing a meeting with her councillors and senior party leaders at Nazrul Manch. The municipal polls in the state are scheduled to be held in 2020.

She also asserted that EVM machines in 30 percent areas in the state malfunctioned and were replaced with new ones during the elections. "Mock polls were not conducted with voters who stood in queues to cast their votes. On earlier instances, there were mock polls in 100 percent machines. But this time, it was done only in two percent of the EVMs. So who can guarantee that the rest of the machines were not programmed before being pressed for votes," she questioned.

A fortnight back, Banerjee in a meeting with her MPs and MLAs at the state Secretariat Nabanna had said that TMC will start a movement pressing for the return of ballots and it will be initiated from Bengal. She also urged all the 23 political parties in the Opposition to come together in support of ballot papers.

Pointing out that the US has banned EVMs, she had also called for constituting a fact-finding committee to probe the issue of EVM malfunctioning and added that the BJP had spent lakhs of rupees to programme the EVMs and swing votes in their favour.

The TMC chief further reiterated that the recently concluded election was based on falsehood which will be unearthed with the passage of time. She expressed her hope that soon all the Opposition parties will join TMC's movement of shunning EVMs and using ballots for elections.

It may be mentioned that the July 21 rally originated from TMC's movement focusing on 'no identity card, no vote' in 2001. "This year, our theme for July 21 will be 'no ballot no vote'. We will soon write to the state Election Commission on behalf of our municipal party and also on behalf of the government," state Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim said.

Banerjee urged all her party leaders to keep a track on the preparation of the voters' list across the state. "A lot of government employees who were affiliated with the CPI(M) continue to work at the government level even now as we have not terminated anybody from service on humanitarian grounds. I have information that a lot of genuine voters' names have been struck off the electoral rolls. So I will urge the party machinery to keep an eye on this," she added.

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