The ruling Congress party Sunday dismissed as a "stretch of imagination" Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani's comments that India should revert to the ballot paper for elections unless adequate safeguards are in place to guard against malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Advani told The Sunday Express that ballot papers should be reintroduced in the state assembly elections scheduled later this year unless the Election Commission is able to ensure foolproof functioning of EVMs.
"We should revert to ballot papers unless the Election Commission is able to ensure that Electronic Voting Machines are foolproof and every possibility of their malfunctioning is taken care of," Advani was quoted as saying.
However, Congress party spokesperson Manish Tiwari described the suggestion as a "stretch of imagination".
"The concerns (about malfunctioning of EVMs) have been expressed over a period of time, but to go that far as to suggest that you should scrap Electronic Voting Machines and revert to voting by ballot - I think is a stretch of imagination," Tiwari told a news channel.
"Mr. Quraishi, the election commissioner, has said that they have appointed an expert committee which went into the possibility of whether EVMs could be rigged, and the committee has come to a conclusion in the negative," he added.
Tiwari said he preferred the poll panel's stand on the issue, adding that "there needs to be a wider discussion and probe into the efficacy of EVMs".
Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP spokesperson, meanwhile clarified his party's stand on the matter.
"Mr. Advani has not referred to the 2009 elections being rigged, what he has said is because there have been a large number of complaints on the issue of malfunctioning of EVMs. The question is posed to the Election Commission to ensure that there are safeguards on EVMS, which if not possible - then the ballot paper is a right way and for that the government should go into a larger debate."