President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that modern technologies greatly helped conduct the elections in the large and geographically diverse country like India.
He also lauded the Election Commission for its role in conducting polls. “Our polling personnel contributed to the credibility of the elections overcoming all the challenges. The Election Commission worked hard to conduct polls with all fairness and transparency and it helped further strengthen faith of people on the electoral process,” said the President.
Kovind was speaking at an event held by the EC to observe the National Voters' Day. His comment justifying the use of modern technology in conducting elections came at a time when the controversy over the credibility of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) re-kindled this week with some political parties, like the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress, reiterating demand for return to the use of paper ballots.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who already ruled out the possibility of return to the paper ballot era, said on Friday the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) devices would be used along with the EVMs in every polling station to enhance transparency of the elections.
With Lok Sabha elections just a few weeks away, Arora on Friday said that the EC were “ready and fully equipped to facilitate the more than 87 crore electors in exercising their invaluable franchise at the 10 lakh polling stations” across the country.
President on Friday did not directly refer to the controversy over the EVMs. He, however, said that India’s democracy and electoral system were held in high regard internationally. “Election institutions of many countries have studied our electoral management system. The Election Commission of India has helped train officers and built capacities in several countries. This is a reflection of the respect for it.”
The controversy over the credibility of the EVMs rekindled on Monday, when Syed Shuja, who claimed to be a US-based cyber expert, addressed media-persons in London through Skype and alleged that the machines had been hacked to rig the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The EC, however, dismissed the allegation and even lodged a complaint with Delhi Police against Syed Shuja. The poll panel vouched for the credibility of the EVMs used to conduct elections in the country.
Law and Justice Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad did refer to the row over the EVMs while speaking on the occasion of the National Voters' Day.
“I do not wish to make a political comment. I wish to say it with all respect that the same machine has shown the victory of my party (BJP) and also the defeat of my party. The same machine has shown regional players getting success time and time again,” he said.
Prasad said that the conduct of elections in India was being discussed globally. “We need to trust the EC, respect the sanctity of the institution of EC,” he said.