VVPAT: EC's 'blood test' vs Oppn's 'full body scan'

VVPAT: EC's 'blood test' vs Oppn's 'full body scan'

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad with Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, TMC's Derek O' Brien, DMK's Kanimozhi, CPI's D Raja and other opposition leaders addresses the media after meeting the Election Commission over their concerns about Electronic Voting Machines and the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail Machines), at Nirvachan Sadan, in New Delhi, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (PTI Photo)

"When we do a blood test, we take blood from only one point," Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Tuesday told a group of Opposition leaders who were insisting on 100% VVPAT verification in case there is a mismatch while tallying the EVM and VVPATs of five polling stations in the Lok Sabha elections.

Pat came the reply from one of the senior Opposition leaders, who without battling an eyelid said, "when you find an issue in the blood test, you do a (full) body scan".

Arora was defending the Supreme Court decision to tally the VVPATs in only five polling stations each of Assembly segment in a Lok Sabha constituency, which the Opposition has been claiming was very low. However, they had accepted the Supreme Court verdict on VVPATs but wanted a reversal in counting process by first tallying the VVPATs with EVMs before going ahead with the counting of other EVMs.

This was just one of the exchanges during the meeting 22 Opposition leaders had with the Election Commission with their demands, two days ahead of the counting of Lok Sabha elections.

Sources said CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told the meeting that Indian democracy's conduct depends on EC's conduct. "First a sample of milk has to be tested to see whether the glass of milk is poisonous or not," Yechury said emphasising their demand to count the VVPATs first rather than at the last as envisaged by the EC at present.

When Arora started his response by saying that the Supreme Court has "thrown out" a PIL on Tuesday saying "don't be a nuisance", sources quoted Naidu as saying that the EC should not compare some private individuals' petition with leading political leaders and they were there "not to waste" his time.

The leaders also got a shot in the arm as they got news about former President Pranab Mukherjee's statement asking EC to ensure institutional credibility. Leaders like Yechury, Congress' Singhvi and Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien noticed on social media that Mukherjee has issued the statement.

Sources said Singhvi read out the statement in the meeting with the Election Commissioners listening with unease. In the meeting, TDP also did a power point presentation detailing their demands.

In the meeting, O'Brien asked the Election Commission "if Emergency has been declared" in West Bengal, as he raised the issue of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing that paramilitary forces will be in West Bengal for one week more.

BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra and Samajwadi Party's Ramgopal Yadav raised the issues of EVMs being transported asking how can it be done when those should be in strong rooms. Videos circulating on social media about EVM transportation were shown to the Election Commissioners on I-Pads even as the EC said all the EVMs that were used for polling were in strong rooms.

Kejriwal told the Commission that if it had any doubts about the Opposition demands, it should ask them and they would clarify it there.