Opposition meets at Sharad Pawar’s residence, discusses EVM ‘doubts’
Several Opposition parties on Thursday met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence to discuss alleged tampering of EVMs during elections and said they will approach the Election Commission on the matter.
Several Opposition parties on Thursday met at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s residence to discuss alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during elections and said they will approach the Election Commission on the matter.
The meeting, which was attended by Congress, CPI, CPI(M), Aam Aadmi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena among others lasted for over an hour. According to PTI, the Trinamool Congress skipped the meeting despite an invitation by the NCP chief.
“A meeting of Opposition leaders was held at my residence today to discuss the efficacy of EVM and the concerns raised by political parties about voting through EVM,” Pawar tweeted.
Former Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who also attended the meeting, said: “Any machine can be manipulated. Our concerns are that we have been saying over the years that it is not a standalone machine. The internet is being used so it can be programmed. We will have to take a call on what needs to be done, because it doesn’t seem we will get any answers.”
CPI general secretary D Raja said all parties agreed that several questions are being raised over the credibility of EVMs. “We must seek a proper response from the Election Commission. We will see what the poll body says and decide the next course of action,” he said.
Raja said a “passing reference” on former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a defamation case by a Gujarat court earlier in the day was made at the meeting but there was no detailed discussion.
“The leaders had only discussed the law pertaining to the case,” Sibal said.
The meeting comes amid efforts of some of these parties to unite and include more political outfits into their loose alliance ahead of the 2024 general elections.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, a key force in this group, met Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday and is scheduled to meet former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday.
EVMs have been a contentious issue for Opposition parties. While they have, in the past, alleged tampering of the machines during various polls, there is no evidence so far to prove the charge.
The Election Commission has maintained that the machines are secured and safely transported for voting.
In 2017, the Election Commission had also challenged political parties to prove their allegation against the devices. None of the parties could prove their point, prompting the poll panel to rule out going back to the paper ballot system.
The poll body, however, reiterated that voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) will be used along with EVMs in all elections to ensure transparency. VVPAT records the name of the candidate and symbol a person voted for in a paper receipt.
- Sharad Pawar