Casting doubt on the credibility of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday announced that panchayat and civic body elections in the state will be held through ballot papers from now on.
“We don’t want EVMs, but ballot papers. All the elections in the state that are conducted by West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) will be held through ballot papers. We will tell the state election commission to use ballot papers in conducting elections to panchayat, municipalities and corporations,” the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief told her party workers at the Martyrs’s Day rally in Kolkata.
The municipal elections in the state are set to be held next year.
Demanding return of ballot papers in general and Assembly elections that are conducted by the Election Commission, Mamata also questioned the outcome of the latest Lok Sabha elections, in which her party lost significant ground to the BJP, which won 18 of the 42 seats.
“How did the BJP get so many seats as mysteriously they had predicted? The results were almost exactly as their leaders had said would happen. This is because the EVMs were manipulated. This is why we are demanding return of ballot papers, and do away with the EVMs,” she said, adding that the “Lok Sabha results are still a mystery to us”.
“Why are EVMs not used in countries like the US, the UK, Japan, France and Germany, and even other European countries,” she asked and made a fervent demand for the return of the ballot papers across the country.
This is not the first time that Mamata has spoken in favour of ballots. Soon after the Lok Sabha poll results were declared, she had accused the BJP of tampering the EVMs to achieve the “desired result” and had accused the party of deploying Central forces in the state “to pressure voters to vote for the BJP”.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh took a dig at the Chief Ministrr for demanding the return of ballot papers. “We have not demanded either the EVMs or ballot papers. We are okay with either of them. But so far, Mamata has won the elections on EVMs. So she is making an excuse when she has lost seats in the Lok Sabha elections. These are all petty excuses to cover her party’s electoral defeat,” Ghosh said.
CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty also hit out at the TMC chief and asked her “to cancel election results of the 2011 and 2016 state Assembly elections, “Mamata Banerjee won the Assembly polls in 2011 and 2016 on EVMs. If she is demanding ballot papers then she must first cancel previous Assembly election results,” he said.