Representatives of 21 Opposition parties on Tuesday said that they reiterated their demands related to the electronic voting machines and voter verified paper audit trail machines to the Election Commission. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that despite the Opposition making repeated demands over the last few months, the poll panel has said it will deliberate further on the matter on Wednesday.
The Opposition leaders made the announcements after their latest meeting with the Election Commission, PTI reported. The parties have demanded verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail slips of randomly-selected polling stations before the counting of the votes polled in the Lok Sabha elections on May 23.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the delegation told the Election Commission that if any discrepancy is found during the VVPAT verification, then the slips at all polling stations of that particular Assembly segment should be verified.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu said that the delegation asked the poll panel to respect the mandate of the people. “It cannot be manipulated,” Naidu said.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra alleged that “there is large-scale bungling relating to EVMs in Uttar Pradesh” and demanded the deployment of Central forces.
Azad said that they had also expressed their concern about the transportation of the Electronic Voting Machines ahead of counting of votes and urged the Election Commissioner to investigate the matter. Earlier on Tuesday, the Election Commission of India clarified that electronic voting machines are “absolutely safe” in strongrooms and that allegations of EVMs being moved around allegedly to replace polled EVMs were false.
Last month, the Supreme Court had ordered that VVPAT slips be used to verify votes for five electronic voting machines in every constituency during the ongoing elections instead of just one. The court had said this practice would ensure the “greatest degree of accuracy, satisfaction” in the election process. The review plea claimed that the “increase from one to five was not a reasonable number”.
On May 7, the Supreme Court declined to hear a review petition against that order, filed by 21 Opposition parties, urging it to direct the Election Commission to cross-check at least 50% votes using VVPAT slips.
The Election Commission had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that verification of 50% of votes would delay the announcement of results by six days.