Raising the issue of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) controversy, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said all Opposition parties are going to demand for the use of ballot papers in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
“The Election Commission officials have reportedly commented that the Opposition has been raising doubts over the use of EVMs during elections after the loss of candidates. However, the NCP won the recently-held bypoll for the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat but raised concerns over EVMs at 64 booths that faced problems on the polling day, which the election office has admitted,” Pawar said at the Foundation Day programme of the NCP in the city, which also marked the conclusion of the ‘Halla Bol’ rally in western Maharashtra.
“All Opposition parties are going to request the Election Commission to not use EVMs in the next elections. But will demand the old ballot paper system,” he added.
The NCP chief said the graph of the BJP is coming down and the country’s mood is indicated by the recent bypoll results, including that of the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat. The BJP won the Palghar seat because of division of votes among candidates of other political parties, he said.
“Everyone in the country now needs change. The situation might be different in every state with dominance of regional parties. All are now having a mindset to come together and take on the BJP,” Pawar said. The NCP chief said the process of bringing like-minded people together for contesting the election has been completed and party workers should implement it on the ground as a change in rule is required both in central and state government.
The BJP has cheated the public by making false promises, he said, adding that the state government has failed to implement the loan waiver decision effectively as it does not have a good intention.
“The demonetisation decision saw the poor in the country suffer but it is reported that the exchange of old notes is still taking place in Nepal. The price rise is at its peak and the petroleum prices have been increasing rapidly. But a small decrease in the rate is publicised.”
Pawar also took a dig at the BJP-led government for trying to seek sympathy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi by floating information of threat to his life from the Naxals.
“I discussed the issue with a retired intelligence officer who said there is no substance in such claims. According to the officer, the government does not publicise the threat to the Prime Minister but passes it on to the intelligence department for future action. Thus, it raises
doubts over the government as it seems to be seeking sympathy for the Prime Minister as it has nothing to talk good about,” he said.
The NCP chief said the government recently arrested the organisers of Elgar Parishad and raised allegations about their connections with the Naxals and inciting violence in Koregaon Bhima. “Everyone knows who were behind the riots in Koregaon Bhima. Those having no relation with the riots have been arrested. This is misuse of power,” Pawar said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis issued a statement to condemn Pawar’s speech. “It is unfortunate that Sharad Pawarji is raising doubts about the communication seized by the police which reveals the plot to assassin PM. Pawar’s speech is unexpected and he should not have stooped so low.”