Opposition parties on Wednesday criticised the Election Commission for its order rejecting their demand to tweak the counting of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips. The poll panel said earlier in the day counting will continue as planned on May 23 as it was not “possible nor feasible to accede” to the demand made by the Opposition parties.

Representatives of 22 Opposition parties had met the Election Commission on Tuesday reiterating their demand that VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations be verified before votes are counted on May 23.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi asked whether the poll panel has turned the electronic voting machines, to which VVPATs are attached, into “electronic victory machines”, PTI reported. He also claimed the Election Commission had turned the Model Code of Conduct into “Modi’s Campaign Code”, alleging that the poll panel did not heed complaints of violations against the prime minister and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah.

“It is a black day for democracy and it is very sad and unfortunate for an institution like the Election Commission,” Singhvi told reporters.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury claimed that the poll panel’s decision was against the “spirit” of a Supreme Court order. “If the process has been so long drawn for the sake of integrity of the electoral process, why is EC not adhering to the basic principle of testing the sample first?” he tweeted.

The Telugu Desam Party also called the decision a “dark day for democracy”. “A genuine and fair demand for transparency is chucked out of the window without a reason,” TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh said in a tweet.

However, Amit Shah had earlier in the day accused the Opposition of tarnishing the image of Indian democracy by raising doubts about the reliability of EVMs, as they are rattled by exit polls which show the National Democratic Alliance heading for an easy victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

Shah said that most parties which have doubted the reliability of EVMs had won elections in the past, in which the machines were used for polling. “Why did these parties then take over the government?” he asked.

Results for 542 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats will be declared on Thursday.