The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal by the Election Commission to procure Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines, PTI reported. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Rs 3,173 crore had been allotted to acquire 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines.
This comes days after it was reported that Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi wrote to the Centre asking for funds so it can buy paper trail voting machines before the 2019 elections. The VVPAT machines provide voters with a printout of the choice they have made, so as to avoid any doubts about whether the candidate chosen was the one for whom the vote was registered.
Zaidi’s letter, dated March 22, was sent to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and asked that the money be disbursed immediately as the machines need to be bought by September 2018 in order for them to be used for next Lok Sabha polls. He had said the commission wanted to deploy the VVPAT machines along with Electronic Voting Machines so that the “transparency of the voting process is enhanced” and “voter’s confidence in the process is further strengthened”. He had added that the procurement “cannot be delayed any longer”.
When asked by the Supreme Court, the EC said that it will take around 30 months to make more than 16 lakh VVPAT machines, PTI reported.
Opposition parties have been complaining that the EVMs currently in use are rigged in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Though the Election Commission has vehemently and repeatedly denied this, everyone from the Congress to the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party has insisted that the machines were manipulated in the last set of Assembly elections.