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‘Back to paper ballot ridiculous’

Leader of Opposition LK Advani’s demand for return to the ballot paper starting with Maharashtra elections later this year is prompted by what BJP leaders have been saying in private after the Lok Sabha polls, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2009 16:41 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani’s demand for return to the ballot paper starting with Maharashtra elections later this year is prompted by what BJP leaders have been saying in private after the Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress, of course, has outrightly rejected Advani’s plan while the CPI(M) wants all doubts cleared.

In the absence of clear proof to substantiate their suspicion of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), central BJP leaders had advised its members not to air their views in public.

In fact, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa and Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu were the among the first to allege tampering of EVMs soon after the Lok Sabha polls.

Jayalalithaa’s fears on this account are not new. In 2001, her party’s plea for return to the ballot paper was rejected by the Supreme Court, which upheld the use of EVMs.

Even as Advani made it clear that no one was alleging rigging, he wanted the larger question about the possibility of EVMs malfunctioning to be addressed.

The Congress slammed Advani saying that this shows the BJP leader’s lack of grace at losing.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Tampering can happen in any situation. That shouldn't call for removal of EVMs. That would take us back to middle ages.”

CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury said , “All doubts about the EVMs must be cleared in the interest of democracy.”

The BJP on Sunday asked the Election Commission to ensure that the EVMs are tamper-proof before putting them to use in the coming assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad referred to former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal's technical presentation to the Election Commission as to how EVMs can be programmed to manipulate. “The Election Commission has now ordered an inquiry by a Deputy Election Commissioner,” he added.