16 political parties urge Election Commission to junk EVMs

16 political parties urge Election Commission to junk EVMs

Sixteen Opposition parties on Monday approached the Election Commission expressing no confidence in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)and demanded elections through paper ballots.

The concerted action follows a series of meetings between Opposition leaders, a few initiated by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, to forge a rainbow coalition against the BJP that has shown aggression in expanding its horizons after the electoral successes in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel held a strategy meeting on Monday morning that was attended by leaders of eight parties – the NCP, JD(U), CPI, CPM, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress and the RJD.

Azad and Patel also met Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to seek her support for the joint action against the use of EVMs.

“We have lost confidence and trust in EVMs after the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand elections, and the recent by-polls. Hence we asked the Election Commission to revert to the paper ballot system,” Azad told reporters after leaders of 13 political parties met Chief Election Commissioner S N Zaidi.

NCP leader Majeed Memon said the commission assured them that it would convene an all-party meeting on the efficacy of the EVMs. BSP leader Satish Mishra said leaders of 16 parties have signed the petition and leaders of 13 parties approached the EC on Monday. In the memorandum submitted to the EC, the leaders said the trust deficit amongst political parties in the electronic devices was too deep-seated and pervasive.

“It is, therefore, requested that till such time, the issues of tampering and malfunctions of the EVMs are addressed and the tamper-proof and flawless functioning of EVMs is technologically established and endorsed globally, to the satisfaction of the political parties, the forthcoming elections should be conducted under the old paper ballot system,” it added.

Monday’s meeting and joint action of approaching the EC is seen as part of efforts by Opposition parties to explore the possibility of a broad-based unity on issues of “common concern”.

Opposition parties are concerned about the high-pitched cow vigilantism, the alleged undermining of institutions such as the Lokpal, Information Commission, and the “bypassing of the Rajya Sabha” by classifying important legislations as “Money Bills”. Several parties have spoken in favour of a coalition to take on the BJP in the upcoming elections but are yet to decide on who should helm such efforts.

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