ECI to Hold Lok Sabha Election on EVMs. Modi’s BJP Can Hope to Win

Every Indian Vote Counts
Every Indian Vote Counts

Although the ruling party BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favor of EVMs, the opposition parties have raised serious doubts about the security of these machines.

By Rakesh Raman

Notwithstanding the vigorous protests by the opposition parties, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is determined to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. The opposition parties also have demanded the use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) with EVMs.

The ECI said in a statement released today that it is making all preparatory arrangements to ensure EVM VVPAT allocation well in time for General Elections across the States.

The statement added that the mandatory first-level checks and training to district officers are also being ensured to meet the requirement of 100% VVPATs across approximately 10.6 lakh (1.6 million) polling stations for the upcoming Lok Sabha Election in 2019.

The Commission says around 22.3 lakh Ballot Units, 16.3 lakh Control Units and nearly 17.3 lakh VVPATs will be used for the forthcoming elections in 2019. This number of machines includes the buffer stock for training as well as replacements.

Last month, ECI said it would like to allay any unfounded apprehensions regarding the supply of VVPATs for the Lok Sabha election in 2019. The statement added that the Commission is committed to 100% deployment of VVPATs at all polling stations in future General, as well as bye elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.

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In order to meet the requirement of 100% VVPATs for all polling stations for the upcoming Lok Sabha election in 2019, the Commission placed an order of 17.45 lakh VVPATs to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bangalore and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad.

Till date, 9.45 lakh units have been produced by the PSUs. Both PSUs have assured the Commission that the remaining VVPAT units (8 lakh) will be manufactured and supplied to the various States/UTs comfortably before end of November 2018.

The Election Commission of India is mandated under Article 324 to 329 of the Constitution of India to provide superintendence, direction, and control for conduct of elections in accordance with the law in force.

Demand for Paper Ballots

In their meeting with the ECI, a number of opposition parties led by Congress had reiterated their demand for paper ballots for future elections.

The ECI had called the meeting with all recognized political parties on 27th August in New Delhi. All 7 registered national political parties and 51 state political parties were invited to participate in the meeting.

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At least 17 parties have been demanding elections on ballot papers. They include Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party, CPI-M, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), DMK, CPI, YSR Congress, Kerala Congress Mani (KCM), and AIUDF.

Although the ruling party BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in favor of EVMs, the opposition parties have raised serious doubts about the security of these machines.

Major political parties in India have repeatedly complained about the vulnerability of EVMs. It is also being observed that when EVMs malfunction, they vote only in favor of Modi’s BJP which runs with Lotus election symbol.

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However, BJP dismisses these concerns. Earlier last month, BJP president Amit Shah advised the opposition parties that instead of blaming the EVMs for their defeats in elections, they should listen to the voters.

He counted the examples of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi as well as Congress that has formed the governments in Punjab and Karnataka by winning the elections with EVMs.

The BJP president said if opposition parties kept finding the reasons for their defeat in EVMs, their defeat is certain in 2019 Lok Sabha election.

But opposition parties believe that BJP is using EVMs strategically to win important elections such as the Uttar Pradesh (U.P) election. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati had complained about the EVM-based voting fraud in the Uttar Pradesh (U.P) election. But India’s Election Commission had rejected her complaint.

As the vulnerabilities of EVMs are becoming quite visible, besides Mayawati other politicians have been demanding voting on traditional ballot papers.

This article is part of our exclusive editorial section that focuses on Lok Sabha Election 2019 in India.

The president of Delhi State Congress, Ajay Maken, had said that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election should be held on traditional ballot papers instead of EVMs.

Maken had asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to support the demand to hold MCD election on ballot papers because many people have raised doubts about EVMs.

The election authorities – which work under Modi government – refused to entertain the opposition complaints. The MCD election was held on EVMs. Obviously, BJP won.

Once again the ECI has ignored opposition parties’ demand to hold elections on paper ballots. Since the Assembly elections as well as the Lok Sabha election will be held on EVMs, BJP can once again hope to win.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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