Trinamool Congress MPs on Monday staged a protest against electronic voting machines near the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex. The MPs demanded that paper ballots be used instead of voting machines for casting votes.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien led the protest. MPs were seen holding placards that read “No EVM, we want paper ballot” and shouted slogans against the use of voting machines.
“EVMs can be hacked, everybody knows that,” said Trinamool Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Kalyan Banerjee, according to Deccan Herald. “This should stop and that’s why we demand a return to ballot papers.”
When asked if the Trinamool Congress suspected foul play in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Banerjee said: “If they haven’t tampered with EVMs [electronic voting machines], they [BJP] would not have got these numbers. How did they get it?”
Trinamool Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien said electoral reforms and the demand for a return to using ballot papers are important on the party’s agenda.
Twelve Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, including the Trinamool Congress, had submitted a notice for a short discussion on electoral reforms to ensure free and fair elections in the ongoing session. The notice does not mention electronic voting machines, but unidentified leaders said the matter will be raised provided Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu accepts the notice.
Earlier this month, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Opposition parties should come together to demand the use of ballot papers in elections instead of electronic voting machines. She demanded a fact-finding committee to find out details about voting machines.
Opposition parties have repeatedly expressed doubts about the credibility of electronic voting machines in the last two years. Two days before the counting of votes in May, representatives of 22 Opposition parties met the Election Commission to reiterate their demand that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail slips of randomly selected polling stations be verified before counting of votes. The Election Commission, however, refused to change the process of the counting.