Leaders of Opposition parties announced on Sunday that they will move the Supreme Court again demanding verification of at least 50% of votes cast in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections against the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips, PTI reported.
Leaders of 21 Opposition parties, including the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist), jointly addressed a press conference in Delhi on Sunday to highlight matters regarding transparency in the election process and protection of voter rights, and gave a call to “save democracy”.
“We are raising doubts about the EVMs,” said Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, according to NDTV. “The confidence of the voter can only be restored through paper trail machines,” said Naidu, who is a key interlocutor of the Opposition parties.
Naidu cited examples from countries like Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland which have chosen to go back to using paper ballots in their elections. Naidu had met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Saturday to discuss malfunctioning of electronic voting machines in Andhra Pradesh during the first phase of polls on April 11.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there was a “serious question mark” on the election process, reported the Hindustan Times. “We are going to politely seek politically in the country, through a campaign, and legally in the court, that at least a 50% sample check is of vital importance,” he said. Singhvi said the Supreme Court had “in principle” accepted the Opposition’s argument.
On April 8, the Supreme Court ordered that Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips of five randomly-selected electronic voting machines in every constituency be counted instead of just one EVM in the upcoming elections. The court had passed the order on a petition filed by the 21 Opposition parties.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “programming” the electronic voting machines to win the polls, according to PTI. Kejriwal said the Opposition parties will carry out a nationwide campaign on discrepancies in EVMs.
The Election Commission of India has decided to use VVPATs with all electronic voting machines in the ongoing elections for greater transparency and credibility.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, termed the Opposition parties’ joint press conference an exercise “to find excuses for their impending massive defeat” in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The so-called all party meeting convened in Delhi is nothing but a confession of defeat by the so-called mahagathbandhan,” said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said. “They are already trying to find excuses for their impending massive defeat. 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.”