QUESTIONING THE credibility of EVMs, leaders of Opposition parties on Sunday reiterated their demand that at least half the Electronic Voting Machines be randomly verified using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and said they will approach the Supreme Court again if the Election Commission failed to act on their demand.
Addressing a joint press conference with leaders from the Congress, AAP, CPM, JD(S), CPI, and Samajwadi Party among others, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party said that though they would prefer a return to paper ballots, they were asking for 50 per cent VVPAT count due to paucity of time .
Referring to the Supreme Court’s April 8 direction that the VVPAT count be increased to five from the current one EVM per assembly constituency, Naidu said, “We are not satisfied…We will file a fresh petition or move a review petition.”
The April 8 order came on a plea by Naidu and leaders of 30 other political parties.
The TDP leader said the affidavit filed by the Election Commission in the matter before the Supreme Court where it stated that increasing the VVPAT count to 50 per cent would delay the declaration of results by six days as “extremely wrong and misleading”. He contended that even in the days of manual counting, so much time was not required.
He referred to glitches in the EVMs which caused voting to last until midnight in some booths in Andhra Pradesh in the first phase of polling for the Lok Sabha seats on April 11 and wondered if the technology was being manipulated.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that “people of this country have lost trust in the EVMs”. “Why is it that in all malfunctioning EVMs, the votes go to the BJP…Are they programmed?” he said.
Referring to reports of malfunctioning EVMs at some booths in AP, Kejriwal alleged this may be to delay the polling in select booths to “bring down” the voting percentage.
Senior Advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the SC’s earlier order was not enough and that the “simple solution” to enhance the trustworthiness of the EVMs was to increase the VVPAT count to 50 per cent.
The BJP called the Opposition’s meeting an exercise “to find excuses for their impending massive defeat” in the Lok Sabha polls. BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said: “The all-party meeting convened in Delhi is nothing but a confession of defeat by the so-called Mahagathbandhan. They have not only failed to mount a challenge against the BJP in this election but have also failed as an Opposition in the last five years.”