Oppn to raise EVMs during electoral reform debate in RS

Fourteen Opposition parties have submitted a notice for a discussion on electoral reforms for free and fair elections in Rajya Sabha. (PTI Photo)

The opposition will speak in one voice in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday seeking to corner the Narendra Modi government on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) when a short duration discussion on electoral reforms will be taken up.

Fourteen Opposition parties have submitted a notice for a discussion on electoral reforms for free and fair elections and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has allowed the discussion to be taken up on Wednesday. The parties which signed the notice include Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI(M), CPI, AAP, RJD, NCP, PDP and Kerala Congress.

Sources said there were backroom discussions with Leader of House Thawarchand Gehlot and senior Opposition leaders on the issue of discussing it and it is learnt that after the government too came on board, Naidu went ahead assigning Wednesday as the day for debate on the issue.

Opposition parties, sources said, will strongly raise the issue of EVMs and its tampering and tempers are likely to fly high in the debate, as they had been vocal on the manipulation of these machines. They will also raise the issue of "missing" EVMs.

Sources said the Opposition have a strategy in place for the discussion with the Congress, NCP and BSP likely to focus on EVMs and the demand to return to ballot papers while other parties will focus issues like the appointment process of Election Commissioners and state funding of parties for election campaign among others.

Experts invited by NCP chief Sharad Pawar had recently briefed Opposition leaders on how EVMs can be manipulated.

The BJP will counter the charges against EVMs like it has been doing for the past couple of years. The BJP debaters are likely to take a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reply during the Motion of Thanks to the President's speech debate and be vocal on 'One Nation, One Poll' plank, which most of the Opposition are against.

In Parliament, Modi had made a strong pitch for electoral reforms and backed the use of EVMs. Targeting Congress, he had said, "We brought the party from nothing to this stage. We lost elections but we never blamed circumstances. When there is no self-confidence, people start looking for excuses. There was no soul searching. This is the test of leadership. And now there is no point in lowering the morale of cadres. Prep up and let’s be prepared for the next fight." Modi said.

Last month, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had said on the doubts over EVMs, "there is no smoke without fire."

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